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News that hundreds of dental practices in America were hit with ransomware recently is a timely reminder of the importance of keeping your virus and security software up to date.
In the UK, if you are using Windows 7 on your dental practice computer/s then you need to be aware that as of January 2020, Microsoft will no longer support this version of its operating system.
Computer/s running Windows 7 will no longer receive security updates from Microsoft, so your system is at risk of cyber-attacks and viruses - so if you haven't already thought about it, you need to consider your options now.
Keeping your personal and special category data safe is vital to business continuity and may be at risk without up to date cyber security in place.
Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10 on all your Windows devices. The Microsoft website advises customers to either upgrade existing computers to Windows 10 or purchasing new devices with Windows 10 already installed.
Many of us remember in 2017 the Wannacry virus that devasted the NHS for nearly a whole day. Service was disrupted as technology was either attacked or switched off to prevent the threat from spreading.
The National Audit Office review found that the Department of Health had been warned of a likely attack, but that NHS organisations were not up to date with their software.
The outcome of the review of that incident was that much of the NHS IT and digital hardware was running out of date software and the systems were not secure or up to date.
Your data security and protection responsibilities
Dental practices who hold personal data and special category data must be fully compliant with the Data Security and Protection Toolkit (DSPT) requirements.
Each year, you need to demonstrate your compliance with the 10 data security standards health and social care organisations.
The DSPT has an online self-assessment tool that you can complete to show you are compliant, which needs to be completed annual by 31 March.
More information is available from the National Cyber Security Centre which has a small business guide to help you protect yourself and your business from cyber-crime.
Any data breaches or attacks should be reported to the Information Commissioners Office where advice and guidance can be given.
You will need to assess your current IT infrastructure to decide how much this will cost. Please also weigh up the financial and reputational cost of an attack on your systems should one happen without the appropriate safeguards in place.
We have continued to ask for dedicated funding to be made available to help support dental practices upgrade to necessary software/hardware, as we know these added costs can really affect a practices financial viability, and especially can impact on smaller practices adversely.
Our dedicated team of advisers can also help support you with any compliance issues, Extra and Expert members can get one-on-one advice over the phone.
Nicola Hawkey, Senior Policy Advisor
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