Articles and Case Studies

Cyber Scams: Is Your Practice at Risk?

10 Jul 2018

Digital cyber attack

We often hear about cyber scams and think, “That won’t ever happen to me or my business”.

We tend to believe we would never fall for a suspicious email asking us to submit passwords or click on fake links.

However, it’s important to be aware that cyber risk is a serious issue for Australian medical practices, particularly given the use of electronic health records. Scammers are becoming increasingly sophisticated and fraudulent activity can be harder to spot.

Case study

The following case study is based on actual medico-legal matters (details have been anonymised to protect the privacy of the parties involved):

One morning, a specialist’s practice software would not open. Staff called the IT support team, who found that all network files had been encrypted and locked by a virus. An attempt to restore data from the backup server failed because that had also been locked. A ransom notice appeared, demanding payment in exchange for a decryption code. The specialist chose to pay the ransom, and the IT team recovered most of the data. A number of measures were taken to strengthen security and prevent a similar attack.

Breaches of patient privacy

Note that if patients’ or other individuals’ privacy is breached, there are now legal requirements to notify patients and the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Only data breaches involving likely risk of serious harm to the individual or individuals whose data is affected need to be reported. If your timely management of the data breach means serious harm is no longer likely, the notification obligations under the legislation may not take effect.

For more information on cyber security, see MDA National’s Cyber Resources page.

Practice Management, Technology, General Practice, Practice Manager Or Owner


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