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.

Taking measures to secure your data

The good news is there are a number of steps you can actively take to secure your data. MDA National aims to make preparing yourself, your practice staff, and your practice easier with our new Cyber Risk Program. The program incorporates:

  • Cyber Risk Education for MDA National Members and Practice Indemnity Policyholders which includes
    • online access to case studies, articles and blogs by global cyber experts
    • quarterly cyber risk email updates to support you in mitigating cyber risk
    • cybersecurity education activities.

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

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


My Career Journey with Dr Nick Coatsworth

Dr Nick Coatsworth is an expert in health policy, public administration and a practising infectious diseases physician. He held a national role in the Australian response to COVID-19 as Deputy Chief Medical Officer of Australia, becoming one of the most recognised medical spokespeople during the pandemic. Nick engaged the Australian community through a variety of media platforms most notably as the spearhead of the national COVID-19 vaccination campaign. Dr Micheal Gannon, Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, sits down with Dr Nick Coatsworth to discuss Nick's medical career journey, and what insights and advice he has for junior doctors. MDA National would like to acknowledge the contributions of MDA National staff, Members, friends and colleagues in the production of the podcast and note that this work is copyright. Apart from any use permitted under applicable copyright law, you may not reproduce the content of this podcast without the permission of MDA National. This podcast contains generic information only, is intended to stimulate thought and discussion, and doesn’t account for requirements of any particular individual. The content may contain opinions which are not necessarily those of MDA National. We recommend that you always contact your indemnity provider when you require specific advice in relation to your insurance policy or medico-legal matters. MDA National Members need to contact us for specific medico-legal advice on freecall 1800 011 255 or email We may also refer you to other professional services.


09 Jun 2022

Career complications and contending with uncertainty

Among the many challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for junior doctors is how to respond to medical training impacts and career uncertainty. In this podcast, Dr Caroline Elton (a psychologist who specialises in helping doctors)and Dr Benjamin Veness (a Psychiatry registrar) share advice for coping with medical training and career delays, disruptions and unknowns.


10 Aug 2020