Almost every day there are new threats appearing on the internet and it can seem like an impossible task to keep your computers protected.  However, there are things you can do to make sure your workstations and data are protected.  There are three options for staying safe while online and protecting your data: having an internet security software, having a good backup solution, and educating employees on safe internet practices.

Internet Security Software

Internet security software is one of the easiest ways to stay protected while online but it can sometimes be tricky concerning dental CAD/CAM software.  Unfortunately, not all internet security suites play well with the software we use in the dental industry.  Issues will usually manifest in connection errors between the client/server setups of your CAD software.  I have even seen a few cases where a particular antivirus software was deleting files needed by the CAD software and causing it to be dysfunctional.  I do not recommend running just any internet security software. You need to find the right one.  To date, the only free option I haven’t experienced issues with is Windows Defender. 

Having a Good Backup Solution

The second option isn’t so much about being protected from infection but more about protecting your data so that if you are infected you can recover with little to no loss of production.  To truly protect your data, you need a good backup solution.  In the case of a ransomware infection, a good backup may be the only way to recover your data.  The simplest backup solution is to use an external hard drive and an imaging software.  There are backup software options built right into Windows or another option is to get a third party backup solution.  After connecting the external drive, you can setup the backup software to backup just important files or create an image of the entire hard drive and save onto the external device.  You can adjust the intervals from hours to days to weeks depending on how much protection you want.  Keep in mind, that in order to protect data on an external drive from certain types of infection, it should be disconnected from the PC when it is not backing up the system.  Once you have your data backed up on an external hard drive, if you are infected, you can restore your data after cleaning the infection or reinstalling Windows.  There are also options for cloud backup services where your data is stored at a remote site.  These options can be nice because you don’t have to worry about an external device, though it can become costly if you are storing a large amount of data.

Educating Employees on Safe Internet Practices

The last and most important option to talk about is educating your workforce on safe internet practices.  A vast majority of infections originate from users that haven’t been educated on how to be safe online.  A good resource to learn ways to be safe online is KnowBe4.  Under their resources tab you can read about different types of attacks from ransomware to phishing.  Some quick tips for staying safe include:

  • Be smart about emails from unknown sources. If you have any doubt about its legitimacy or the context of the email is asking you to do something out of the norm, delete it. 
  • Don’t open unknown attachments, especially ones with the .exe file extension.  Common ransomware attacks have used Microsoft Word or Excel documents attached to emails to infect the local computers. 
  • Only download files from verified sites.  If your lab has IT support, you can even have them restrict installs and certain types of files (that are common causes of infection) from being run on your workstations.

Remember, some of the best ways to prevent and protect your CAD/CAM workstations from infection are having an internet security suite, a good data backup solution, and educating your workforce on safe internet practices.  These three things are easy to implement, low cost or free, and will save you a lot of headaches that come with a PC infection.

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