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

June 6, June 12, June 19, August 30

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...

Primary care webinar: “I'm being harassed!”

September 6, 2018, 12 noon

Part of Kate’s monthly webinar series.

Kate and lawyer Maria McDonald discuss how to deal with harassment and harassment claims in the workplace.

Full details and registration here.

Privacy Officer training

October 2 through November 6, 2018

Kate’s next 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 here.

Advanced Privacy Officer training

November 13, 2018

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.

Kate Dewhirst Health Law

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