How good is your Practice Management Software security?

One of the most often overlooked points of vulnerability to your practice is the strength of the passwords that you use when logging into your Practice Management Systems.   To underestimate the importance of using strong passwords is to leave the door wide open to a data breach. Your passwords should be a robust combination of all the characters that are allowed, and should not be a word commonly found in any dictionaries, in any language.

How do you maximize Practice Management Software security?

First and foremost, using the security features in your Practice Management Software is a must.  It’s also a required component of HIPAA/HITECH regulations.  Each employee should have a unique username and password.  This allows an administrator to track employee actions in the system, enhancing internal as well as external security.  Permissions for employees can also be set, which will allow imposing limitations on what an employees is, or is not, allowed to do within the system.

But…I already have a password to log into my computer!

Unfortunately it’s not enough.  Hackers can gain access to computer systems by “cracking” the passwords.  Malicious password cracking programs can run through all of the words in the dictionary and the most common passwords  in a matter of minutes.   Even words in multiple languages and spelled backwards!  Without additional Practice Management Software security in place, if your computer password was to get compromised then all of your sensitive patient data could be at risk.

Using strong passwords to enhance Practice Management Software security:

How do you come up with strong passwords that you can actually remember, without writing them down where they could be easily found and used to cause you or your patients harm?  A good method is to come up with a phrase that is meaningfully unique to you, and therefore it will be something you will be likely to remember.

For example: “I love Golden Retriever puppies” or “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are my favorite”

  • Use the first or last letter of each word to create a string of characters.  From the example above: “peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are my favorites” I could come up with: “PB&Jamf” or “pb&jAMF”
  • Replace one or more of the characters with a number, or a special character.  Or add a number or special character.   “PB&Jamf” becomes “PB&J@mf” and “pb&jAMF” becomes “7pb&jAMF!”
  • You could add a suffix or prefix to make it unique to your application:
    • For Dentrix I could use: dtxPB&Jamf
    • For Sofdent I could use: pb&jAMF!SD
  • Make sure that your each unique string of characters is at least eight characters long.

Now that you have a strong passwords, that last thing you need to worry about is using them wisely.  Do not write them down on a sticky note and put them under your keyboard or behind your monitor. Do not store them in the file system of your computer.   Having strong Practice Management Software security in place protects your patients and your practice.

Posted in: Healthcare IT, Tech Tips

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