Cybersecurity Starts with Your Employees: Why Dental Practices Need Comprehensive Training Programs

While many dental practices focus on implementing the latest cybersecurity tools and technologies to protect themselves, it’s important not to overlook one of the most critical components of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy: employee training.

Employees are often the first line of defense when it comes to cybersecurity. They are the ones who interact with technology on a daily basis and have access to sensitive patient data. This makes them a prime target for cybercriminals. 

In 2021, 39% of data breaches in the healthcare industry were connected to internal actors and most of the time, they were a result of a genuine mistake. In fact, incidents that originate inside the practice are 2.5x more likely to occur as the result of human error than intentional malice.

Devices outnumber people in healthcare 3-to-1, creating infinite opportunities for one wrong action to open Pandora’s box on your business. Taking the time to educate your staff can make a huge difference. In fact, one study found that proper training can reduce the risk of falling victim to a cyberattack by 50-75%.  

To mitigate these risks, it’s important for dental practices to prioritize employee training on cybersecurity best practices. Here are some key areas that should be covered:

Password security

Employees should be trained on how to create strong passwords and avoid common mistakes like using easily guessable passwords or sharing passwords with others. Encourage them to change their passwords regularly and use multi-factor authentication wherever possible.

Phishing and social engineering

Ensure your team knows how to identify and avoid phishing scams, which are often used by cybercriminals to gain access to sensitive data. They should also be educated on how to spot social engineering tactics like pretexting or baiting, and how to respond appropriately.

Data handling

Teach your staff to how to properly handle sensitive patient data securely, including storing, transferring, and disposing of it. 

Mobile device security

With the increasing use of mobile devices in the workplace, it’s important that employees know how to use them securely. This includes best practices like setting strong passwords, encrypting data, and using secure Wi-Fi networks.

Once isn’t enough

By prioritizing employee training in these key areas, dental practices can help reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data breaches. However, it’s important to note that it should be an ongoing process, not a one-time event. Phishing, for example, is one of the biggest threats facing the industry and one study determined that employees who undergo training on a monthly basis are 34% more likely to recognize the risk of clicking on a suspicious email.

Regularly check for updates in cybersecurity news, specifically in regard to the dental industry. A great resource for the latest threats and best practices is the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency, or CISA. They regularly provide information and advisories related to cybersecurity and compliance on their social media accounts and at The more informed and up-to-date you and your team are, the safer your practice, and its data, will be.

Bring in an expert

In addition to training, dental practices can also benefit from working with a managed security services provider (MSSP) that specializes in healthcare cybersecurity, like Metallic IT. We can help identify and mitigate potential risks, as well as provide ongoing monitoring and support to ensure that your practice’s cybersecurity strategy remains effective over time. 

Want to learn more? Get in touch.