Why is the healthcare industry often targeted by hackers? What are some security blind spots that practice owners should be aware of to protect their business, employees, and clients? Why should you consider investing in cybersecurity?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks about how to protect yourself against hackers with JohnE Upgrade.
In This Podcast
- Be mindful of your emails
- Security blind spots you should be aware of to protect your practice
- Protecting your clients
- JohnE’s advice to private practitioners
Be mindful of your emails
That’s one of my number one tips, is do not click on links in emails because that is usually going to be a hacker who set up a fake site … the hacker is then logging all their information. (JohnE Upgrade)
One of the most frequent ways that people are scammed is by clicking on links that they find in emails.
It may seem innocent enough, but if you are unsure at any moment, call the official number of the organization that the hacker is pretending to be from and request information.
Do not assume. Rather be safe by calling to find out the information before entering any of your details into a website.
Security blind spots you should be aware of to protect your practice
Practices hold treasure troves of vital information because they store details about their clients.
For [practices] they need to follow what I would call [the] best [security] practices and tighten up their environment and use things like VPNs and educate their employees to understand the basics [of security] like not clicking on links in emails, not giving their credit card over the phone, and being aware … even though it’s a small practice it can pay off big dividends for a hacker. (JohnE Upgrade)
Consider getting extra training and personal cyber-protection packages for yourself, your employees, and the practice itself.
It may be expensive, but it is a small cost in comparison with having a data leak.
Protecting your clients
JohnE provides some tips on protecting senior citizens and teenagers from hackers. For senior citizens, tell them that:
- Social security is never going to call, so hang up if someone does.
- MediCare is never going to call, so hang up if someone does.
- Do not pick up calls from blocked numbers or unknown numbers.
- Tell them that no US agency is going to call a person by phone.
- They should never pay anyone money over the internet that they do not personally know.
- They can put antivirus software on their devices if they are spending time online.
For keeping kids and teenagers safe online, encourage them and their parents to:
- Have open communication between parents and kids about what they are doing – without judgment.
- Set guidelines about what is okay and what is not.
- Install software that monitors the apps that the kids are using.
I also advocate that parents – and this might cause a [fight] – tell their teens [and kids] that they need to get permission before they post anything on social media. (JohnE Upgrade)
Archival websites can be used by schools, universities, and prospective jobs to scan applicants and their past posts on social media to assess whether they will be accepted or not.
JohnE’s advice to private practitioners
Things are going to get better. Law enforcement is getting stronger and laws are becoming harsher for online hackers. Be prepared, and protect yourself, your assets, employees, and clients by investing in training and software protection.
Useful Links mentioned in this episode:
- Visit CyberD TV and connect with JohnE on Twitter and LinkedIn
- Join Noble for FREE at www.noble.health/Joe
- Read JohnE Upgrade’s article: An A-Z Plan for Corporate Cybersecurity Success
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- Overcome your limiting beliefs with Joe Hudson | PoP 691
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- Apply to work with us — decision-making matrix for your next steps
Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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I am Joe Sanok, your host and welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast. I am so glad that you are here. We are covering all things private practice on this show, so from the moment you first start a practice we have resources that are totally free, like our email course on how to start a practice over at practiceofthepractice.com/new. Or if you’re growing into a group practice, you can go to practiceofthethepractice.com/grow and get our email course all about growing your practice. We have tons of free content, paid content, all sorts of supports to help you from that moment you start a practice all the way through when you’re exiting, maybe launching a podcast and keynotes. So there’s all sorts of things that we cover on this show and really excited to have you here.
In late 2021, we lost a friend of the podcast. Roy Huggins passed away in late 2021, and he was always my go-to digital security guy. He was a former Silicon Valley guy, turned therapist. He knew HIPAA inside and out, digital security and our whole community just really mourns his death in 2021. So to say, like who are so new and emerging leaders around that space? I’m really excited that today we have JohnE Upgrade. After a 35 year career, JohnE Upgrade retired as a cyber security subject matter expert from IBM’s cloud division. In October of 2021, he launched CyberD TV, the first streaming service dedicated to cyber security training for the general public. It’s like Netflix for cyber security and his book on cyber security entitled Don’t Hack was released in November of 2021. So I’m so excited to invite and welcome JohnE to the podcast. JohnE, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[JOHNE UPGRADE] Hi Joe. I’m so happy to be here. I’m a big fan of the show. I’ve got lots of tips, especially the Ask Joe segments. I love those.
[JOE] Oh, thank you so much. I really appreciate that. You’ve been in the cybersecurity world for a really long time, so you’ve probably seen a number of trends. Would love to hear right now as we’re entering into 2022, there’s all sorts of things out there that we know, or maybe even we don’t know in regards to security threats, what are some of the top cybersecurity things that you see happening that affect private practices now?
[JOHNE] Actually, Joe, the health industry is probably one of the biggest targets of hackers right now. Last year, 250 American hospitals paid over $100 million in ransom to get their records unlocked because of things like phishing, spear phishing, and I’ll go into those terms. Some of your listeners I’m sure have been familiar with those already, but the trend is just going up. It’s exploding. Scotland Yard has said it, InterPol said it and our own FBI just came out with the statistics for 2020. We’ll get 2021 soon but from 2019 to 2020, they’ve got over 30% more scam incidents reported to them. And that doesn’t even cover the ones that people are too embarrassed to report or may not even know that they were scammed at that time because that actually does happen.
[JOE] Well, sometimes it feels like it’s so hard to stay ahead of the scams. It’s like as soon as they start reporting that this scam is going on, then there’s like a whole nother scam that’s going on. Are there maybe just some basic rules of thumb to follow? I want to get into what are we really seeing in the markets and the targets and things like that but, like for example, I remember somebody called me and they said, “I’m from the Benze Police fraternal order of police. Do you support police? Would you make a donation? Can we have your credit card number over the phone?” I said, “Well, no I can call back on the regular police line and just see if they have a way that I can do it securely online.” This guy like freaked out on me and said, “You don’t support police.” It’s like, nah, I’m not just going to give some rando my credit card information over the phone. I’m sure there’s other things like that that are just basic baseline things. But what are the things specific to businesses that you’re seeing maybe are rules of thumb that we didn’t maybe think about even a year or two ago?
[JOHNE] First of all, Joe, you did the exact right thing. Anyone in your audience that’s listening right now should just hang up the phone and call the direct number for the legitimate charity or whatever organization has contacted them, whether it’s their credit card, their bank, social security, car maintenance has been a big one where they call and say your car warranty is up. So they’re just shooting anywhere to sort of get a hit. Now with the health industry, the thing that’s getting people are clicking on links in emails. That’s one of my number one tips, is, do not click on links in emails because that is usually going to be a hacker who set up a fake site and when people go there to sign in or to do whatever action they’ve been requested to do, the hacker just is logging all of their information and they can at their convenience go into their bank account, go their Amazon, buy gift cards, go to their retailers and do anything as if they’re the person themselves.
Since there’s a lag time, it might take a person a while to be able to discover this. So that’s why I always recommend that people have credit monitoring services besides anything else that they’re doing. I actually have three because I was victimized as one of the 146 million other people were in the Equifax data breach a few years ago. After that, I needed to protect my identity from identity theft. So anytime someone is messing with my credit, I get an alert and people can also do that with their banks and their credit cards that as soon as something changes, they can set a ceiling for what they want to be texted on. I mean, people aren’t going to want to be texted when they use their card at a Starbucks.
If someone’s buying Samsonite luggage in preparation for a trip, which actually happened to me, I got a call from my bank years ago that someone was going to Hawaii on my dime, they thought and of course it all got shut down. But that’s my number one recommendation for people is don’t click on any links and emails and also get a credit monitoring service just to protect yourself against identity theft. There’s Identity Guard. I prefer, myself among the three, I like Norton a lot. There’s also one for AAA that I have also. So AAA. And they’re not expensive. They’re only a few dollars a month, so it’s well worth it. One fraud incident can be in the tens of thousands of dollars. Most people won’t have to pay it, but just trying to fight it can take weeks or months and a lot of energy.
[JOE] I know a lot of those like monitoring services, it feels like there’s all these upgrades and to know like how much you need. Do you just need like a typical basic package or do you tend to get like a medium package? Because I feel like whenever there’s something that people are fearful of, those services have the potential to prey on people’s fears. So for like Norton or something like that, what level of service do you recommend people get?
[JOHNE] I actually got the suite and I’ll tell you why, because the suite covers 10 devices from phones to tablets, to computers. By that, I mean it covers VPN, which is essential. That’s another thing. It’s called virtual private network and its insulates people from hackers trying to access their ID as they’re traveling along the internet. It basically provides a lot of protection. Also the suites are very cheap too, when they bundle everything together. Now, I understand what you’re saying about the extras. I don’t like the upgrades either myself a lot of times because I may not want all of them, so I don’t actually have everything in there suite. I pick and choose. It’s sort of like the al carte, you pick what you need. For me picking what I needed was the identity protection, the VPN and credit monitoring. So I think everyone has to make their own choices, but that’s a good start right there.
[JOE] Okay. Then what else are you seeing in regards to different liabilities for private practices or areas that maybe are blind spots for most practices?
[JOHNE] The reason hackers are attacking healthcare in general is because it’s essential that they have access to their patient’s records at all times. With private practices, it may not be a priority to think that they’re going to be a target of some hack attempt because maybe they only have three or four employees. It’s a small practice. But when you think about it, how many patients have gone through that practice over the years and how they need to protect their personal information? Because the practice will have their credit cards, their social security number, which, another tip is the social security number needs to be guarded. That’s the holy grail of a hacker. If they can get someone’s social security number, they’ll be able to build an identity pretty quickly.
Driver’s licenses are great and they have trouble getting those but social security is the number one tough one to get, because it’s unique to everyone and everyone just has one throughout their lifetime and you need it to work and all of that. But for a small practice, they need to really follow what I would consider best practices and tighten up their environment and use things like I said, like VPN educate their employees to understand the basics like I had said of not clicking on emails and not just giving their credit card over the phone and being aware that someone can just pull up their name and start targeting them. Because even though it’s a small practice, it can pay off big dividends for a hacker.
[JOE] So I think maybe a lot of therapists think, well, if I’m using an electronic health records that I have a business associates agreement with, and that EHR is HIPAA-compliant and has security that that’s enough. Would you say that that’s enough in most situations or do they need the extra layers and extra trainings for their staff and things like that?
[JOHNE] I’d get the extra trainings and the extra layers personally, because it’s very economical. People can look around and find the right packages to see what would suit them. As I said, one fraud incident can set people back tens of thousands of dollars. Then we’re not even talking about lawsuits from patients and clients. No matter what the business is, if someone’s records are violated you might be a victim of a class action suit when they all get together or some other legal jeopardy that be in. When we talk about HIPAA, well, that’s another situation entirely. I actually did an article that went into the HIPAA requirements and they’re different from state to state. That’s why it’s a patchwork.
As you had said on one of your Ask Joe’s, there’s an LLC, but you had to get a PLLC because you were in practice in Michigan. Well, not every state needs a practitioner to get a PLLC. They might not even have such a category. So each state is different and that’s the problem, but everyone needs to follow the same fundamentals if they feel like they have been hacked. The first thing is call the local police. The second thing is to contact the FBI if they think the local police it’s beyond their measure of doing things. Then there’s a HIPAA site, which I’ll send you the link to that you can put in the comments for the podcast that takes people right to the HIPAA page. They actually have a form to fill out for anybody who can alert everybody in their practice about a possible data breach. They’ll walk everybody through the steps because that’s a big process if someone has started from beginning.
So it’s actually been well thought out and people can follow it and within an hour or so, they’d be able to cover themselves. Data breach is the worst thing that can possibly happen to anybody whether it’s your private life or a practice. So you can’t depend on the hospitals and the providers to be able to cover people because the internet is still in the wild west stages no matter what we think. We’re the pioneers still in many years from now, they’ll look back and say, wow, there was no regulation. Social media was out of control and they’ll have all kinds of justifications on why in the future we should have done things now. The best thing anyone can do is just protect themselves and their practice, of course.
[JOE] When you’re thinking about protecting yourself and protecting your business, what are the, like, I think so many people are like, I don’t even know what I should buy. So you said pick what you need. I think a lot of folks listening would be like, I don’t even know what I need. So what are some of those key terms that you would say are just essential for any practice, however big they are? Just like a handful of them that they definitely want to look into.
[JOHNE] That’s a great point. I had written an article called JohnE Upgrade’s A to Z Game Plan for preventing data breach breaches for businesses. It was published in Lost Prevention Media a few months ago. I’ll send you the link for that too. People can just look up A to Z Game Plan, JohnE Upgrade. I’m sure they could Google it also and find it very easily.
[JOE] Yes, we’ll put that in the show notes.
[JOHNE] Yep. Basically there’s a lot of things people can do that don’t even require money. When I worked for IBM, the division I worked in the cloud division, I had just looked at the revenue last year was 17 billion with a B. So for them to put a hundred million into protecting that $17 billion is nothing. So for them, they can throw the people at it, the hardware, the best practices, training, all of that. For a smaller company that doesn’t have those resources there’s so many things that they can do to protect themselves. That’s why I sort of came up with that A to Z game plan. Part of it, of course, is following just common sense things. If someone’s an owner of a practice be very careful who has accounts among your employees and definitely be very careful of who has the administrator password.
Someone who has the administrator password can see every record on your server. Every business has at least one server now. I’m sure you have quite a few actually. Got to look at who has the admin password. Part of it is account security of course. When a hacker breaks in, okay, they’re not just breaking in randomly, and they’re able to do everything. That’s sort of a movie myth. What they have to do is get access to someone who has access. That’s why they do this thing called spear phishing, which is targeted direction at a certain employee to victimize. They love to get people that are in the finance department, the legal department, because they have all of the records for the company. Of course, anyone who has medical records is definitely a target. It’s not to find people.
Everybody’s on LinkedIn with their biography and the company that they work for. We even saw in the military, in Germany, they did a cat phishing. What had basically started as a spear phishing turned into a cat phishing and catfish phishing is a little different where it turns into a romantic situation. They had convinced these soldiers overseas in the army that they were in love with them and before you knew it, there was some breaches that were going on. Started as a spear phishing expedition, where they were targeting these people and then it turned into a cat phishing expedition where they were stringing them along as possible romantic partners. So everyone needs to avoid thinking that anyone that they know online is actually a real friend or someone that they can trust.
My biggest tip, I think of all time is never send anyone money on online that you haven’t met on person. You’d be shocked how many people have done. I just had talked to a lady from South Carolina who only made $1,500 a month as a short order cook in a diner. She was an older lady with grandkids and she wound up getting scammed out of $3,200. She had been strung along for six months. Everyone online has a hard luck story eventually. They do what I call is the big ask where they will eventually ask for something, whether it’s for their child, their ailing parents, or they need an operation for themselves. So probably the biggest key is for people to just be a little more suspicious. I hate to say that because I wish everyone could be a Good Samaritan and help everyone out. But a lot of times, in fact, probably 99% of the time is just a scammer who is trying to get someone’s money out of it.
I’m a senior citizen myself, as you said, I had 35 years in the industry and I’m in my sixties. The two areas that are targeted as far as age groups are teenagers by predators on the internet and then the elderly who are targeted by scammers with online dating and social security, Medicare scams. So as you said, there’s just everywhere you turn, there’s a new scam, but with businesses, healthcare practitioners, you’re right in the main target because you’ve got the keys to the kingdom and access of your employees is key. Don’t give anybody access who doesn’t need it. Just because someone works in HR doesn’t mean they need administrator access to the HR server.
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[JOE] Such good points. I know a lot of people here work with teens or with seniors. So what are a couple tips with each of those categories that those therapists could pass on to teens or parents of teens, or maybe adult children who have parents that are seniors? What are the things that we should know?
[JOHNE] Okay, I’ll start off with seniors since I am one. Also they’re actually easier to deal with than teens. I think we could all remember back to our teenage years when we knew a little, but thought we knew everything. Unfortunately, these kids really do know a lot because they know more about technology than most adults will ever learn. They grew up with it and if you see the amazing things that they can do online you’d be pretty convinced that, well we got to have some guidelines for them. So let’s start with the seniors first. Senior, first of all, social security is never going to call you on the phone. Medicare is never going to call you. Hang up the phone. Even before that, don’t even pick up the phone. If you’re a senior citizen and you see an unknown caller or the numbers blocked, just let it go to voicemail, don’t even pick it up.
It just, we’re trained Joe. I’m of the generation where we didn’t have answering machines. We just had parents who would get sick of the phone ringing and yell, pick the phone up. So we were conditioned to pick that phone up every time it rings and people that are of the older generation, they’re just so worried. They’re going to miss this critical important call. The truth is if it’s your doctor, they’ll leave a message. If it’s anybody that is in your family that has something important, they’ll leave a message. If it’s a scammer, they’ll just hang up. As I said, no, government agency will ever call on the phone. They’ll just send documents via mail. I’m talking about snail mail, the US Mail.
Someone can sign up for some of the emails but that’s stuff that’s solicited. That’s not unsolicited. So most elderly people get their mail and they read their newspaper, their print newspaper, and they’re happy about it. Unfortunately, scammers prey upon the fact that we’re conditioned to answer the phone. Also we want to solve a problem. If they say our social security is going to be suspended and we’re on a fixed income, but we have to give them a gift card over the internet or our debit card most people’s initial knee-jerk reaction is to do it because they’re worried that they’re going to have their account paused. That’s the first thing they say, is that we’ve just stopped your account. If you want to open it up again and get your monthly payments because we overpaid you’re going to have to pay this amount.
So the first thing is never give people money over the phone. Don’t even pick up the phone. If it’s a block call or unknown caller, let it go to voicemail. Just think things, I know it’s hard when people get older, but I’d say, think things through. It’s not as easy when you’re in your sixties, seventies and eighties. That’s the problem. Families can really help the older people by basically monitoring what they’re doing. Another thing is if someone’s a senior and they’re online, definitely get antivirus software on there because that’s where the malicious hacker software gets in and it’ll up upload the personal information. So a senior definitely needs to do a few things to protect themselves. I think I’ve given you five tips right there for seniors.
[JOE] Yes, it’s awesome. What about teens?
[JOHNE] Teens, it’s more for the parents than the teens themselves. I wrote an article about that too, how to keep your kids safe online. Also on my on-demand video training, CyberD TV, I have a 12 video series on both how to keep teens safe. I also have one for tips for elderly people or the senior citizens. The one for the senior citizens actually doesn’t even require a subscription. People can just see that for free, but for the parents and the teens, first thing they need to do is basically sit the teen down and have communication with them about what their guidelines are. Because with me, I knew if I hung out with certain people, I’d be in trouble. If my parents caught me in a certain place, like I grew up in New York city and there were two pool halls, at the end of my block, so if I was caught in the pool hall, I knew I was in trouble.
But now with teens these days they, they don’t even go out. They can go up to their room or they can be 20 feet away on their phone. It could be even more dangerous than what’s happening for us in the past. So if parents need to set guidelines, they also can use software that’s undetectable, basically like web watcher. I use that name not because I sponsored or I’ve been sponsored, but it sort of gives people the flavor. What that is software that monitors every app that a teen will install. It’ll tell, log the text, it’ll tell the parents what pictures they’ve posted, all their conversations, so on and so forth, the websites they’ve visited. So that’s actually very cheap. Also it’s well worth it.
I know we’re getting in a big brother territory, but you’ve got to consider these are teenagers. They’re under your roof. You’re trying to keep them safe. It’s much better to watch over them than not to care and let them do whatever they want and wind up posting on Facebook, “Have you seen my child?” That’s parent’s worst nightmare. I also advocate that parents and this might cause a war, but parents tell their teens that they have to get permission before they post anything on social media. I’ll tell you why. I don’t know if you or your listeners have heard of the internet archive called the Way Back Machine, but that’s what, yes, you’ve heard of it. That’s what journalists use. That’s what employers use. That’s what schools use to look through potential candidates past postings and see what they can find.
That’s why an NFL draft pick in the first round will drop to the second round because some journalists will have found some controversial posts from when they were 15 years old and 14 years old that they probably wouldn’t make when they were 20, 21 years old and they’re more mature, but that can cost these people tens of thousands, if not hundreds in that case, millions of dollars. But just think if you’re a parent and you’ve got a child and they’re going to a school and they’re going up against other people and they get a rejection letter and it’s because the recruiter has found some things online that are controversial. Or you’re a recruiter and there’s actually commercials on TV about this, where they say, tell me about this and they show the person that’s applying for it.
Different things about not even their past, it could be someone else’s past who stole their identity, but if someone has posted it themselves they can’t pull it back. The internet never forgets. Once it’s on there, it’s on there forever. So that’s why parents need to get serious and tell their kids that they have to give them the permission to post everything. Of course the kids will say, well, Bobby doesn’t need permission and Susie doesn’t need permission. Well, that’s true but they might be the ones that are getting in trouble later on. I also say never, it doesn’t matter how old someone is, never let someone take a picture of you in a provocative position, doing something you wouldn’t want shown because there’s a situation with revenge porn where kids and not even kids, adults are posting stuff on the internet about their ex-girlfriends and ex-boyfriends.
It’s a very embarrassing situation. Some of it’s blackmail too, where they say I’m going to post this on your Facebook timeline if you don’t pay me. We’ve all seen that with celebrities, but it doesn’t even have to be celebrities that feel this cyber bullying. 48 states actually have laws now against revenge porn and the other two have it under cyber bullying. But my tip is never let anyone take a picture of you, even if it’s with your own phone, because it may be your phone and you think no one else will see it, but you step out for a second and the person could go through your photos and do an airdrop or text to themselves and then just delete it. No one would be the wiser. So we live in an age that we have to be on our toes. The people that aren’t on their toes unfortunately will pay either emotional or financial cost for some of the things that come with this new internet age.
[JOE] Well, JohnE, the last question I always ask us is if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
[JOHNE] I’d want them to know that things are going to get better. I believe law enforcement’s actually getting better. Hackers are turning in money that they’ve scammed because they’re worried that the law is coming down on them. So it’s going to get better. Unfortunately, we’re in this wild west situation, like I had mentioned. One of the things I provide is training for people and for corporate training for each employee, they can go to my CyberD TV site and log on and sign up. If they’re a small group of people they can sign up individually. For your listeners, Joe, I’ve set up a promo and all they have to do is enter the code [PRACTICE] and they’ll get half off for six months. So instead of $1999 a month, it’ll be $999 a month.
They’ll have access to over 250 of my cybersecurity videos whether it’s personal stuff or corporate videos that I’ve made that deal with things at a much higher level for people too. So that’s www.cyberd.tv. They can go on there. Companies can also call my contracts department at 714-450-2155 and I’ll set up a contract for their employees at $99 a year. It’s usually $199.99 A year, but they’ll have a $99 and the employee won’t have to worry about it. They’ll be able to just cover all their employees at once.
[JOE] Oh, that’s so awesome. Well, JohnE, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
[JOHNE] Thank you, Joe. Keep up the great work. I’m a big fan. Like I said, I’ve learned quite a bit from listening to your podcast. Thank you.
[JOE] Thanks so much. We covered a lot of ground today. I know that sometimes when especially information is new, your brain can shut down a little bit. Take some time to digest what we’re talking about. Figure out one or two small steps that you can take in the right direction. Don’t get paralyzed by perfection. Consider a few steps. Like even while we were talking, I texted my parents a bunch of those tips just as a reminder to them to say, “Hey unknown numbers, the government, they’re not going to call you. Just a reminder. Don’t click on links unless you’re expecting a payment link from someone and even then make sure you verify it.” So it could be your parents that you’re checking in with. It could be your teens. It could be yourself. So take some action in some way with what we’ve been talking about today.
We are so excited to have Noble be part of our community. Now, Noble is an app that can help you with between session connections with your clients. They have therapist-designed roadmaps. They have ways that your clients can talk about their emotions, that you can really know what’s going on between sessions. If you go over to noble.health/joe, you can sign up totally for free get the service. It’s going to be awesome for you and for your clients.
So thank you so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an amazing day. I’ll talk to you soon.
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