I’m Kate Dewhirst.

I’m a lawyer who writes about legal issues affecting healthcare in Canada

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Hmmmm. If your head tilts when you read a new email – don’t open it!

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Ransomware and phishing attacks are rampant in health care.

Ever get an email from a bank you don’t use saying your account has been compromised?

Ever get a message from a company with whom you do business saying “Click on this link to update your profile”? But you think to yourself, hmmmm, that’s weird, I don’t use that service.

Has a friend sent an email – “hey, watch this video of kittens frolicking in the fields” – and you know that friend hates cats?

Your IT department writes “time to update your password – click here to send your password”.

If when you receive an email message your head tilts “hmmmm – that’s weird” – don’t open that email or click that link or open the attachment!!

One way computers become infected with ransomware is when team members open infected emails or click links in these kinds of phishing emails. The email looks harmless – but it’s not.

According to the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, “ransomware” is a type of malicious software, or “malware,” that encrypts files on your device or computer and then demands payment in exchange for the key needed to decrypt the files. It essentially locks you out of your data and holds the means of regaining access for ransom.

The IPC issued a guidance document on ransomware in 2016. It’s essential reading for every health privacy officer.  Other great resources come from the Canadian Medical Protective Association and the Health Insurance Reciprocal of Canada.


Want an easy way to help your team understand the risks of ransomware and what to do or not do??

There is a great video from The Agenda with Steve Paikin from February 2018 on the topic of  The Dangers of Malicious Emails.  Play the 9 minute video at your next team meeting.

It will explain:

  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Tips on how to identify malicious emails
  • Examples of how hackers use brand names to lull you into a false sense of security

Remember to keep track of your team training sessions as part of your privacy compliance efforts.

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Some of Kate’s recent and upcoming events

Team Privacy Training Events

April 15, May 3, June 7, 13, 20 & 25

For Primary Care clinics and FHTs

Kate trains health professionals from many more primary care organizations how being privacy-respectful can improve therapeutic relationships. more details...

Speaking event

April 10, 2019

At Osgoode Hall

Kate speaks at the Osgoode Health Law Certificate workshop on privacy for health care organizations. More details...

Primary care webinars: Contracts & Communications

April 11 and May 2, 2019, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Our April webinar is on employee contracts, and in May our title is communication faux pas.

Full details of the 2019 webinar series and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

April 30 through June 4, 2019

Kate’s specialist training course for Privacy Officers in health organizations.

Open to all health Privacy Officers, as well as those hoping to become Privacy Officers. Full details and registration for Privacy Officer training next spring here...

Advanced Privacy Officer training

June 18, 2019

For experienced Privacy Officers within healthcare organisations.

This one day training course focuses on how to handle difficult privacy situations using real-life (but anonymized) case studies and role-play. Full details and registration here...

Free healthcare privacy webinar - ask me anything!

April 3, 2019 12 noon - 1 pm and
May 1, 2019 9 - 10 am

Free webinar - advance registration needed

Whether you're an experience privacy officer or new in the field, pick Kate’s brain for free for an hour, in this live webinar. No charge, but you’ll need to register in advance.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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