By Sheryl J. Cherico, CEO

Cybercrimes and Your Medical Practice

What Is Cybercrime?

What is this Cyber crime? We read about it in newspapers very often. Let’s look at the dictionary definition of Cybercrime: “It is a criminal activity committed on the internet. This is a broad term that describes everything from electronic cracking to denial of service attacks that cause electronic commerce sites to lose money”. But how does it effect your practice? Not only can you lose money, you can have a data breach, which can sometimes cost millions of dollars. Personally, i don’t think cybercrimes are brought to the forefront enough when discussing your HIPAA compliance. I have been training our clients on cybercrimes for years, and feel it is just as important as your HIPAA policies and procedures. Let me give you a little more information.


Cybercrimes can be basically divided into 3 major categories:1. Cybercrimes against persons.- Cybercrimes committed against persons include various crimes like transmission of child-pornography, harassment of any one with the use of a computer such as e-mail.2. Cybercrimes against property.- Aside from computer vandalism, transmission of harmful programs such as viruses are a good example of this. The Melissa virus first appeared on the internet in March of 1999. It spread rapidly throughout computer systems in the United States and Europe. It is estimated that the virus caused 80 million dollars in damages to computers worldwide.3. Cybercrimes against government.- Cyberterrorism is one distinct kind of crime in this category. The growth of internet has shown that the medium of Cyberspace is being used by individuals and groups to threaten the international governments as also to terrorise the citizens of a country. This crime manifests itself into terrorism when an individual “cracks” into a government or military maintained website.

Another cybercrime is cyberharrassment. Various kinds of harassment can and do occur in cyberspace, or through the use of cyberspace. Harassment can be sexual, racial, religious, or other. Persons perpetuating such harassment are also guilty of cybercrimes.

How does this affect your medical practice?

Cybercrimes are what your IT vendor spends most of their time protecting you against. Not only will you lose productive work time, but a patients health could be put in jeopardy if your patient records are wiped away. It is much more than a data breach. It’s the whole package so to speak. Downtime, patient care and data breaches. These are all detrimental to a medical practice.
What can you do to avoid cybercrimes?
Have a good IT vendor, that can protect your network. Make sure you have good antivirus, antispyware, patch management, and policies and procedures. Plug anyholes in firewalls, wifi, and routers. Make sure you have physical locks in place. You don’t want anyone to break into your office and steal your equipment. Have your laptops and mobile phones encrypted. If employees bring their own devices, protect them on your network.
Have good, redundant back ups in place.
Hackers are constantly trying to get into your computer. All you can do is your best to protect your practice. Stay one step ahead of them. Invest in security. You won’t regret it.