Tuesday, December 24, 2019

The State of Ransomware in the US: Report and Statistics 2019

 
 
 
2019 may well become known as “The Year of Ransomware”.  Whereas up to this point, some folks were aware of Ransomware and what is was capable of, this year we have seen a *huge* increase of successful attacks.  These have crippled multiple sectors of business including healthcare.
 
The biggest problem is that the bad guys unleashing this on the public are (at this point) much more proficient and knowledgeable about spreading the threat than the rest of us are at stopping it.  
 
Criminals have discovered this is an easy way to make pile of money and until the victims find ways to shut this down, the scourge will only continue.  For those of you that are not immersed deeply into the world of digital security, this is the number one problem we all face.
 
If you would like a fascinating read on the entire situation head on over to the blog of my favorite Anti-Virus Company Emsisoft and read their report.  This is *highly* recommended...
 

Monday, December 23, 2019

NORAD Tracks Santa on Christmas Eve

 


Tomorrow is Christmas Eve and every year about this time I try to let my readers know about a great service that is provided by NORAD.

The government entity NORAD is a combined effort of the US and Canada that “provides aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense of North America”.  Basically it tracks anything in the air to make sure it is not a threat to North America and they’ve been doing that since 1958.  However, since they are uniquely qualified to track aircraft, the organization also is uniquely qualified to track Santa!!!

To follow Santa on his journey around the world bringing toys to all the boys and girls, go to the NORAD Santa Tracker.  For those truly interested in when Santa will arrive in their area, the trackers have a phone bank setup where they can answer those types of questions for you!  The trackers are real life soldiers who work at NORAD and they volunteer their time every year to provide this service.  The phone number to contact the troops tracking Santa is 1-877-HI-NORAD


I personally want to thank all of the folks in the armed forces who donate their time to this worthy cause every year.  Thanks for bringing Christmas joy to so many of us.  I’ve called and spoken with them before and it was a great experience for the kids involved with that call.  I cannot say enough about how grateful I am for all you do!!!  I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank all of the brave men and women who are serving our country and keeping the rest of us safe from those who would do us harm.  Your sacrifice is appreciated by me more than words can tell and will always be remembered by me and those I love.  There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for their friends and I will do everything I can to make sure those who benefit from your service will always be aware of what you do.

If you would like to read the complete history of how NORAD came to provide this valuable and FREE service to kids and families, Wikipedia has the whole history of the program here.  I’ve got to say it’s a pretty neat read and something that shows how a “happy accident” can bring joy to so many.

The good people at Google have also created a Santa Tracker that can be accessed by clicking here.

I don’t think they have a phone service like NORAD does, but their tracker is pretty neat. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Place. Twist. Done. with the Palodent® 360 Circumferential Matrix System




Dentsply Sirona, the world’s
largest manufacturer of professional dental products and
technologies, introduces the new Palodent® 360 circumferential
matrix system. This revolutionary new design allows clinicians to
achieve tight contacts with anatomically natural contours
without the use of an awkward retainer or applicator and all with
a simple twist of their fingers.

“The newest addition to the Palodent® family of
matrix systems will provide clinicians with all
the tools they need to easily conduct any Class
II restorations with complete confidence,” said
Paquita Poindexter, Product Marketing
Manager for Dentsply Sirona Restorative.” The
simplicity of the Palodent® 360 circumferential
matrix systems allows for simpler, quick
restorations for the clinician and the patient.”

Like the Palodent® Plus sectional matrix system, Palodent® 360
features an anatomically shaped matrix band to provide
predictable, tight contacts that replicate natural tooth anatomy.
The new system can be used for all Class II restorations including
difficult Class II cases, such as situations where there is no
adjacent tooth or there is a severely rotated tooth.

Furthermore, increase efficiency with the use of the Palodent®
360 system by decreasing the time needed for set up. Additional
benefits of the new simplified design include:

-  Ease of Placement
-  No retainer to obstruct access
-  Clear View of the Operating Field
-  No uncomfortable retainer

Palodent® 360 matrix bands are compatible with the Palodent®
Plus retaining rings and wedges to further assist in creating an
optimal seal or additional space in situations where there is a
tight interproximal space. With the addition of the Palodent® 360
circumferential matrix system, the Palodent® family of matrix
systems can cover all posterior Class II restorations.
For excellent restorations, faster and easier than you ever
thought possible, turn to Palodent® 360. Success comes full
circle.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Weave & Curve Dental Announce Integration of Their Platforms

 



I’ve been using VOIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) services from Weave for quite a few months now.  My experience has been incredible positive.  As an example, last Thursday my office (gasp) lost our Google Fiber Internet connection.  Since technology is the lifeblood of the practice, we were practically adrift for a few hours.  This also meant our Weave connection and phones went down as well.  With a phone call to Weave from a mobile phone, we were almost instantly rerouted so that our office lines were now ringing on the cell phones of my front desk team.  This continued until Google got our connection restored and we had the numbers rerouted back to standard.

Weave can do some amazing things for your practice.  If you’d like to find out more, give my article on VOIP a read over at Dental Products Report.  

Now I have exciting news about Weave and cloud based practice management system Curve Dental.

The 2 companies have announced a collaboration that makes Weave available inside the Curve platform.  Here’s the news:

Curve Dental recently announced its integration with Weave, the patient communication platform. Now Curve Dental customers can use Weave’s collection of communication tools.

“Patient experience is a top priority for most dental practices, with technology being a cornerstone of the modern experience,” said Dave Cormack, executive chairman of Curve Dental. “By partnering with a proven patient communications solution like Weave, Curve customers will have access to a modern, HIPAA-approved communications tool that aligns perfectly with today’s digitally-savvy patients.”

Curve’s practice management software, combined with Weave, allows dental practices to communicate more efficiently and effectively with patients and customers.

“Curve’s dedication to streamlining processes for dental practices closely aligns with our mission of bringing businesses closer to the people who use them,” said Brandon Rodman, CEO, and co-founder at Weave. “Curve brings flexibility and efficiencies to all dental processes and our integration will extend these capabilities to nurturing the patient relationship and experience. It’s game-changing for practice owners and their staff, and we’re really excited to see the impact on their businesses and patients.”

Curve Dental provides web-based dental software and related services to dental practices within the US and Canada. For more information, visit curvedental.com.

Weave provides communication software solutions for the entire customer journey. To learn more, visit getweave.com.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Add the Voice of Samuel L. Jackson to your Amazon Echo!

 


As a diehard geek and The Technology Evangelist, sometimes I get to do posts here that are just plain fun.  Today is one of those posts because I am delighted to give you access to the voice of legendary actor Samuel L. Jackson.

I was thrilled to find this info because, well if you ask me, Samuel L. Jackson is the coolest guy on the planet.  Besides being in some Star Wars movies he’s also Nick Fury in the Marvel world and those 2 claims alone make him practically a deity to me.  Never mind that the guy just has ice water in his veins and makes everyone of his characters infinitely re-watchable (and yes that includes SWAT and Snakes on a Plane… at least to me).

So as the guy that I would most like to hang out with, I could hardly contain my excitement when I learned that you can now give your Amazon devices the voice of the famous actor.

Just say to your device, “Alexa, introduce me to Samuel L. Jackson”.  She will ask you to confirm a 99¢ one time charge and then, let the games begin!

You won’t get the full Alexa vocabulary so the device will switch back and forth, but to me that matters little.  My Echos will now converse with me using the voice of the coolest guy on the planet and that’s all the really matters to me.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Emsisoft Finds Bug in Decryptor of Ryuk Ransomware

 


In the past 6 months or so I have become a huge fan of the antivirus company Emsisoft.  Not only does the company make a first class antivirus product, but they also give back by running the Emsisoft Malware Lab which, among other things, releases free decryption keys for known Ransomware.

However, the good folks at Emsisoft are not the only ones who provide decryption keys.  There are other companies that do this as well.

Normally, that would be a good thing, but it seems that recently the bad guys have changed some things about the Ryuk Ransomware that make using the other free keys very risky.

One of the biggest problems with security is that it is a constantly shifting landscape… or a tremendously important cat and mouse game.  Hackers create malware, security professionals counter with solutions, and the hackers rework the malware to bypass whatever security professionals have done.  Currently this is exactly what has happened.

In the last 2 weeks hackers have changed the way Ryuk works.  The current versions that are striking victims uses code that only partially encrypts some files.  This allows the program to work faster and encrypt more data before it’s caught.  This is now causing problems for the existing free decryption solutions that are not created to deal with this new problem.  It means that victims may still be dealing with partially decrypted flies even after running a decryption key.

The good news is the Emsisoft has an updated decrypter that should provide for a smooth unencryption process.  

If you have been affected by Ryuk or you’d like more information, take a look at this post on the Emsisoft blog.  Also, the next time you need to renew your antivirus or you need to do an install on a clean system that needs antivirus, purchase Emsisoft.  That’s what I did...

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

What’s New at ALD 2020? The First “Laser 101” Full-Day Session

 


The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD), recently announced its first “Lasers 101” full day educational track at the upcoming 27th annual conference and exhibition, April 2-4 at the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.

Specifically, the “Lasers 101” track is a day pass program entitled “So You Got a Laser. Now What?” This program will take place on Saturday, April 4th from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. According to ALD executive director, Gail Siminovsky, CAE, “This learning track is designed to excite clinicians interested in exploring laser dentistry or those who may be on the fence about it. By taking this course, clinicians put themselves in the driver’s seat with confidence when it comes to evaluating lasers clinically and using them. It’s another example of ALD’s innovative approach to laser education”.

Here’s the “So You Got a Laser. Now What?” program at a glance:

• 3 expert speakers:
• Michael Cataldo, CEO of Convergent Lasers. “Return on Your Laser Investment”
• Dr. Juliana Barros, “Let the Light Shine: A Brighter Day at the Office”
• Dr. Shalizah Patel, “Laser Protocols: Let the Evidence Guide You”
• Unbiased, scientifically relevant practical information
• 6 CE credits
• Full access to exhibit hall
• Breakfast and Lunch included
• Panel discussion
• Only $695 per attendee**
• This program is FREE when you register for the entire ALD 2020 Meeting**

Click http://bit.ly/2pWYBl3 to register for this one-day only program. Seating is limited!

The over-arching theme of ALD 2020 is “The Future is NOW: Integrating Technology into Your Practice”. The ALD 2020 experience is designed to transform careers by providing unbiased lectures and hands-on workshops on all types of lasers. Digital imaging, CAD/CAM, 3-D cone beam radiography, are all part of the curriculum, as well.

“ALD’s openly friendly and genuine approach will impress you. ALD’s discussions are lively and supportive.” says Siminovsky.”

What else is new and exciting in the laser world? ALD 2020 includes a strong educational track on one of the most exciting developments in laser dentistry; photobiomodulation or PBM, a form of low-level laser therapy which has been clinically proven to heal tissue and reduce pain. The complete schedule includes the highest caliber of informative and relevant sessions that make this conference “dentistry’s laser meeting.”

Lectures: Endodontics, Periodontics, Pediatrics/TOTs, Esthetics, Medically Compromised Patients, Sleep Apnea, Pain Management, Hygiene, Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Legal Protection

Workshops: Diode Laser Basics, Advanced Diode Lasers, Endodontics, Photography, Whitening, Hygiene, Laser Certification

New Trends: 3-D Imaging, Green Dentistry. Smile Design, Caries Prevention, Periodontal Endoscopy, Adjunctive Modalities for Laser Dentistry

Early Bird Discount:
For full conference program details and registration information, visit http://bit.ly/2NOgmcK.
An early bird registration discount of $150.00 is in effect until December 31, 2019. What’s more, during the Greater New York Dental Meeting, $200.00 tuition discount coupons will be distributed during the laser courses presented by Dr. Sam Low, Dr. Mel Burchman, Dr. Gerry Ross and Dr. Laura Braswell. Each of these coupons can be combined with the early bird discount for a total savings of $350.00 for total tuition of only $895.00.

About the Academy of Laser Dentistry:
The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) is the only independent and unbiased non-profit association devoted to laser dentistry and includes clinicians, academicians and researchers in all laser wavelengths. The Academy is devoted to clinical education, research, and the development of standards and guidelines for the safe and effective use of dental laser technology. ALD was founded in 1993, with the merging of the International Academy of Laser Dentistry, the North American Academy of Laser Dentistry and the American Academy of Laser Dentistry. For more information, visit www.LaserDentistry.org.

* Hotel not included
** Additional workshops and hotel not included.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Ransomware at Colorado IT Provider Affects 100+ Dental Offices

 


This is another attack that has affected multiple offices in multiple states.  It seems that Complete Technology Solutions (CTS) a company based out of Englewood, CO was attacked and the hackers used this initial penetration to then infect client offices.

Many IT providers use remote access software to allow their support people to log into a dental office computer & fix problems when they arise.  While some companies set things up so that the dental office has to be at the computer and actually “allow” remote use by clicking “OK”, other companies setup remote control without a user’s permission simply because it is easier, faster, and can be done even when no one is in front of the computer needing to be fixed.

In this case however, since all of the client offices were setup to allow CTS log in without someone actually being at the computer, once hackers gained control inside of the CTS system, they then had access to every client computer.  This allowed the hackers to spread ransomware from CTS to all these client computers.  Basically once hackers had control inside of CTS, they *also* had control inside of every one of their clients computers as well.

Ransomware was installed and this brought over 100 client dental offices crashing down.  Since most of these clients were using CTS as their cloud backup solution as well, their backups were also encrypted and locked.  This attack demonstrates why backups should never all be held in one place.

I’m sure that many of these practices went home each night thinking their office was safe and that even if disaster struck, their data was backed up.  In this case the data *was* backed up but when your backups are also encrypted they are useless.

For years now I’ve been preaching that your backup protocol should be a “backup chain” and by that I mean it needs to have as many links as possible.  Having only ONE backup is not enough.  I would highly recommend at least two… and perhaps even more.  The concept of cloud storage and backups has given many people a false sense of security.  When you consider how important data is to your business ( and it IS the heart of your business) backing up should be one of the most important, if not THE most important part of your business plan.  If you only want to do cloud backup, then make sure you have 2 independent companies providing that service.  Backups are no good if you cannot retrieve them.

Over 500 hundred practices have been taken offline by ransomware since late August.  Do not think this cannot happen to you.  For all the details, checkout this article by security expert Brian Krebs.  

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Curve Dental Releases ePrescribe, Allowing Doctors to Send Digital Prescriptions

 


One of the things that many dental management software systems have been lacking is the ability to ePrescribe.  The idea of paperless prescriptions has been available in the medical world for quite some time now, but it’s been lacking in dentistry.  Now comes great news from Curve Dental that their cloud based management system allows for this sought after feature.

Here are the details:

Dental practitioners can now send or renew prescriptions to pharmacies from any device, Curve Dental announced today. A new release of enhanced functionality for ePrescribe, a module within the Curve Cloud Platform, allows clinicians to send prescriptions to pharmacies from any digital device, including a smartphone or tablet.

In partnership with DrFirst, a leading provider of e-prescribing, price transparency, and medication management solutions, Curve Dental offers customers an efficient process for sending prescriptions from their everyday workflow within its cloud-based dental practice management solution.

The new release includes three prescribing options; ePrescribe, which allows doctors to manage electronic prescriptions with ease; iPrescribe, which allows doctors to write and send prescriptions from mobile devices; and Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs (PDMP) registration for Electronic Prescriptions for Controlled Substances.

With this new functionality, Curve’s ePrescribe module allows customers to streamline prescription writing and reduce prescribing errors using the SmartSuite™ feature. This feature minimizes the need to search for drugs by displaying commonly prescribed medications with complete sig based on historical prescribing behaviors.

Gary Long, Curve's Chief Revenue Officer explains, "Our combined EPCS and PDMP solution streamlines workflow and dramatically reduces the time it takes to check patient prescription history, document the PDMP check and complete the electronic prescription. It also helps eliminate the possibility of human error throughout the process. We are committed to doing our part to address the country's opioid epidemic and feel that our solution will help dentists do their part to support the PDMP initiative."

Curve Dental is a web-based dental software and services provider in the US and Canada. To date, Curve has 25,000 users in the US and Canada and strives to make dental software about the user experience. For more information, visit curvedental.com.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hospital Chain Agress to $2.175 Million Settlement with Office of Civil Rights

 


There is a lesson in today’s post.  Reporting security breaches is required to be in compliance with HIPAA statutes.  Also consulting knowledgable experts can greatly help in these situations.

The situation I’m reporting on here includes a breach which was reported, but actually under reported.  You’ll get the idea after you read the information released by the Department of Health and Human Services:

In an agreement with the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Sentara Hospitals (Sentara) have agreed to take corrective actions and pay $2.175 million to settle potential violations of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Breach Notification and Privacy Rules.  Sentara is comprised of 12 acute care hospitals with more than 300 sites of care throughout Virginia and North Carolina.

In April of 2017, HHS received a complaint alleging that Sentara had sent a bill to an individual containing another patient’s protected health information (PHI). OCR’s investigation determined that Sentara mailed 577 patients’ PHI to wrong addresses that included patient names, account numbers, and dates of services.  Sentara reported this incident as a breach affecting 8 individuals, because Sentara concluded, incorrectly, that unless the disclosure included patient diagnosis, treatment information or other medical information, no reportable breach of PHI had occurred.  Sentara persisted in its refusal to properly report the breach even after being explicitly advised of their duty to do so by OCR. OCR also determined that Sentara failed to have a business associate agreement in place with Sentara Healthcare, an entity that performed business associate services for Sentara.

“HIPAA compliance depends on accurate and timely self-reporting of breaches because patients and the public have a right to know when sensitive information has been exposed.” said Roger Severino, OCR Director.  “When health care providers blatantly fail to report breaches as required by law, they should expect vigorous enforcement action by OCR.”

In addition to the monetary settlement, Sentara will undertake a corrective action plan that includes two years of monitoring. The resolution agreement and corrective action plan may be found at https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/compliance-enforcement/agreements/sentara/index.html

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

What’s New at ALD 2020? The First “Laser 101” Full-Day Session


 


The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD), recently announced its first “Lasers 101” full day educational track at the upcoming 27th annual conference and exhibition, April 2-4 at the Paradise Point Resort in San Diego.

Specifically, the “Lasers 101” track is a day pass program entitled “So You Got a Laser. Now What?” This program will take place on Saturday, April 4th from 8:00 AM to 3:00 PM. According to ALD executive director, Gail Siminovsky, CAE, “This learning track is designed to excite clinicians interested in exploring laser dentistry or those who may be on the fence about it. By taking this course, clinicians put themselves in the driver’s seat with confidence when it comes to evaluating lasers clinically and using them. It’s another example of ALD’s innovative approach to laser education”.

Here’s the “So You Got a Laser. Now What?” program at a glance:
• 3 expert speakers:
• Michael Cataldo, CEO of Convergent Lasers. “Return on Your Laser Investment”
• Dr. Juliana Barros, “Let the Light Shine: A Brighter Day at the Office”
• Dr. Shalizah Patel, “Laser Protocols: Let the Evidence Guide You”
• Unbiased, scientifically relevant practical information
• 6 CE credits
• Full access to exhibit hall
• Breakfast and Lunch included
• Panel discussion
• Only $695 per attendee**
• This program is FREE when you register for the entire ALD 2020 Meeting**
Click http://bit.ly/2pWYBl3 to register for this one-day only program. Seating is limited!

* Hotel not included
** Additional workshops and hotel not included.The over-arching theme of ALD 2020 is “The Future is NOW: Integrating Technology into Your Practice”. The ALD 2020 experience is designed to transform careers by providing unbiased lectures and hands-on workshops on all types of lasers. Digital imaging, CAD/CAM, 3-D cone beam radiography, are all part of the curriculum, as well.
“ALD’s openly friendly and genuine approach will impress you. ALD’s discussions are lively and supportive.” says Siminovsky.”

What else is new and exciting in the laser world? ALD 2020 includes a strong educational track on one of the most exciting developments in laser dentistry; photobiomodulation or PBM, a form of low-level laser therapy which has been clinically proven to heal tissue and reduce pain. The complete schedule includes the highest caliber of informative and relevant sessions that make this conference “dentistry’s laser meeting.”

Lectures: Endodontics, Periodontics, Pediatrics/TOTs, Esthetics, Medically Compromised Patients, Sleep Apnea, Pain Management, Hygiene, Financial Planning, Wealth Management, Legal Protection
Workshops: Diode Laser Basics, Advanced Diode Lasers, Endodontics, Photography, Whitening, Hygiene, Laser Certification

New Trends: 3-D Imaging, Green Dentistry. Smile Design, Caries Prevention, Periodontal Endoscopy, Adjunctive Modalities for Laser Dentistry

Early Bird Discount:
For full conference program details and registration information, visit http://bit.ly/2NOgmcK.
An early bird registration discount of $150.00 is in effect until December 31, 2019. What’s more, during the Greater New York Dental Meeting, $200.00 tuition discount coupons will be distributed during the laser courses presented by Dr. Sam Low, Dr. Mel Burchman, Dr. Gerry Ross and Dr. Laura Braswell. Each of these coupons can be combined with the early bird discount for a total savings of $350.00 for total tuition of only $895.00.

About the Academy of Laser Dentistry:
The Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD) is the only independent and unbiased non-profit association devoted to laser dentistry and includes clinicians, academicians and researchers in all laser wavelengths. The Academy is devoted to clinical education, research, and the development of standards and guidelines for the safe and effective use of dental laser technology. ALD was founded in 1993, with the merging of the International Academy of Laser Dentistry, the North American Academy of Laser Dentistry and the American Academy of Laser Dentistry. For more information, visit www.LaserDentistry.org.

Monday, December 2, 2019

It’s Time For Health Insurance To Pay For Dental Care

 


The article quoted today could be a very slippery slope.  While I agree that dental care needs to be covered better by health insurance, I’m not sure that including it as *part* of health insurance is a good idea.  One of the biggest complaints is that the $1000-1500 deductible on today’s dental policies are the same maximum amount that was covered in the 1960s… and of course the costs of that treatment are no where near what they were back them.  The problem becomes that reimbursement of healthcare by insurance in the medical model is not what it should be either.  I don’t know that I want my treatment mixed in with all of the other aspects of the healthcare system.  How about just increasing the yearly maximums to what they would be adjusted for inflation?

Be that as it may, author Peter Ubel has a good point in his article.  You can read it in its entirety here.

Last time I checked, the mouth was still part of the human body. If I remember correctly, when people experience mouth problems, they ache just as much (often more) than if they experienced problems elsewhere in their bodies. So why do we still treat care of the mouth differently than other types of medical care? Why will my health insurer reimburse the cost of my annual physical but not the price of an annual dental check-up?

The insanity has to stop.

I am ranting on this topic today in part because of a study in the United Kingdom that demonstrates the tight connection between oral health and more general health. This study was focused on people with diabetes who also suffered from periodontitis—for what us non-dentists call “gum disease.” The researchers randomized people to usual care versus intensive periodontal treatment. Those receiving the more intensive dental care not only had better oral health at the end of study, they also had better diabetes control, as measured by a blood test called the A1C; the higher your blood sugar, the greater your A1C. A year into the trial:

Control patients:                                            A1C = 8.3%
People receiving intensive dental care:        A1C = 7.8%

Good dental care is part of good medical care. Because of a historical accident involving power struggles between physicians and dentists, health care insurance in the United States has not typically included dental care. That is a mistake. People deserve robust coverage for all their basic medical needs, including oral health.

Right now, it is easy for a physician to increase the dose of diabetes medications for their patients and expect decent insurance coverage for those treatments. But we could reduce the need for those expensive medicines if we just gave people better dental care. It is insane to pay to treat people’s diabetes while refusing to pay for dental care that will reduce the severity of that illness.