Cyber Security Best Practices for Vet Clinics: How to Protect Your Customers and Your Business

4 mins

In the last year, cyber-attacks and data leaks have increasingly grabbed global headlines, highlighting the importance of data security for businesses small, medium and large around the globe.

Data security should never be taken lightly, least of all now that the new GDPR privacy regulation is on its way. IDEXX Animana is working hard behind the scenes to ensure not only that our practice management system meets and exceeds GDPR standards, but also to help vets work safely in our increasingly data-driven world. Regardless of what practice management system your vet practice is working with, you can create a cyber-safe clinic by following the general recommendations below. And if you’re already a lucky Animana user, we’ve got some additional tips on how you can leverage Animana’s cutting-edge features to keep your business and your customers safe.

Data Security Best Practices for Vet Clinics: The Basics

Security should be in the front of your mind in professional settings like at the clinic, but building good cybersecurity habits goes a long way. Try implementing these simple tips not just in the practice, but also on your smartphone or at home on your computer.

Make sure your hardware and software are always up to date

One of the easiest ways for a hacker to enter a network or device is by abusing existing security gaps that haven’t yet been filled by a patch or software update. Hardware can also become outdated when the supplier stops providing security updates. Not regularly performing these kinds of updates can leave your network and devices vulnerable to threats.

Align with the IT systems administrator in your practice

Talk to your IT systems administrator to make sure that every computer in your practice is secured. Make sure you are aligned on the measures that need to be taken in order to keep your data safe, such as setting up a firewall or anti-virus software.

Building Cyber Secure Habits in Your Workplace

Cybersecurity isn’t limited to the technical nuts and bolts of software and hardware: protecting your practice and your patients is as much about daily behaviour as it is software updates. Hacking and data theft can occur just as easily as a result of identity theft or brief access to sensitive information on one of your practice computers.

To avoid these kinds of socially-engineered cyber attacks in your practice, you can follow these tips.

Keep business and pleasure separate: don’t connect personal devices to your practice network

Charging your phone from the office computer sounds innocent enough, but remember that smartphones can also be infected with malware without showing any obvious signs. An infected device can transfer unwanted software like keyloggers to the computer, which allow an attacker to track every keystroke that is typed on the computer, providing unwanted access to any piece of software or confidential data on the computer.

Taking a break? Done for the day? Don’t forget to lock your computer or log off.

Always be sure to lock your computer when you’re not standing in front of it. Whether it’s a quick run to the loo, a short coffee break, or heading home for the day, you should never leave a device unlocked when you’re not using it. On a Windows machine, you can do this quickly with Windows key + L. Mac users can use Control+Shift+Power, or if you have an older model use Control+Shift+Eject instead.

Take it slow and first determine if hyperlinks in emails are safe to open

Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal details by using an e-mail that appears as if it comes from a familiar and trusted source: Such an e-mail might look innocent but often in the message the attacker will, for instance, urge you to log in to your bank account, thus gaining access to sensitive information like passwords, account numbers and personal details. Since reputable businesses and government entities will never ask you for username and password details, the best solution is to mark such messages as spam and immediately delete them.

Security on shared computers

Often at home or in a vet practice, you’ll be sharing a laptop or workstation with multiple users. Always using your own login account and logging off once you’re finished is an important start to keeping the device cyber safe. Also be sure to log out of any websites or programmes you were using, and never allow your browser to save passwords or login information. This will help prevent others from purposely or accidentally logging into your accounts and accessing your information.

Utilising Animana’s Enhanced Data Security Features

If you’re already using Animana, it’s time to put your PMS to work for you: take advantage of Animana’s built-in security features, and make sure your settings are optimal to protect your practice and your clients.

In particular, here are three Animana features that you can use to promote a cyber-safe work environment.

Use Animana’s Check on IP feature to determine where users can log in from

With the Check on IP feature, you can tell Animana which users may log in from a specific IP-address. You can use this feature, for example, to limit certain users to log in outside the clinic, or only in specific clinic locations.

For more on setting up the Check on IP feature, see our Knowledge Base article.

Limit access to features and actions in Animana by setting user permissions

As an administrator of an Animana account, you can give each user a specific set of permissions. These permissions determine whether individual users have access to specific features or can perform certain actions in the system. Always make sure that you are giving your users only the permissions they need to do their job and limit access to functionalities that they don’t need.

Find out more about setting up permissions in the Knowledge Base.

Keep track of all traffic on your Animana account by using the Audit Log

There might be some instances where changes have been made to a patient or client file, but for some reason, you are not able to see who processed these changes. The Audit Log can be of help in tracking this sort of information. The Audit log keeps track of changes that have been made in Animana, which makes it easier to track who has made a particular change and what kind of information has been adjusted.

If you are interested in this functionality read more about it here, or contact our Support Team to see if this functionality should be enabled for your practice.

Don’t let cyber attacks and shifting data security laws catch your practice by surprise. Building a few positive data security habits in your daily work will go along way to protecting your practice and your customers, and if you’re an Animana customer, take advantage of your practice management system’s built-in features to add an extra layer of security.

Let’s talk about what IDEXX software can do for your practice

Complete the form below and we’ll get back to you.