Ransomware attacks have been rampant and just when we thought that they have done enough damage, they managed to leave no stone un-turned by attacking hospital network systems as well. This is a great strategy to extort large sums of money as hospital data that includes patient records, are extremely vital for their proper and timely treatment.
The malware infects the systems, encrypts data and locks the users out of their computers and devices. Ransomware recovery can only be done if a ransom demanded by the cyber criminal is paid. The ransom amount is usually in bitcoin and instructions on how to successfully pay the criminals are provided.
This is a planned target by the ransomware gangs that are aware of the casualties they might cause to the lives of the patients if the data is deleted or corrupted. But these criminals have no ethics or humanity, and would rather extract as big of a ransom amount as possible. The hospitals are most likely to pay the ransom than lose patient lives and get sued.
Another reason why hospitals turn out to be a great target is they do not educate their employees about cyber threats and attacks nor they have any focus on ransomware recovery. This leaves them completely vulnerable to data breach and malware attacks. Since it is about patients and matter of life and death- the hospitals panic quickly and give in faster. Hence, it’s important for the healthcare sector to invest heavily in anti-viruses, firewalls and other necessary security measures including email security.
Cases of Ransomware Attacks on Healthcare Sector
Let’s see some of the cases that happened to fully understand how important cybersecurity is against ransomware software in healthcare industry.
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was attacked by ransomware that resulted in the hospital paying $17,000 in bitcoin.
WanaCry ransomware attacked the outdated IT infrastructure of healthcare centers around the world and nearly made UK National Health Service devastated. Although the WannaCry attackers did more damage to the food and manufacturing industries than the health care sector – a total of 58 percent of damage was caused to the food sector and 25 percent to the manufacturing sector, while a mere 9 percent to the hospitals and healthcare.
“The past year served as a stark reminder of the innovative prowess and destructive capabilities of global threat actors. Their tireless dedication to technical theft, inventive exploits, and creative methodology paid big dividends in 2017.” -The Cylance 2017 Threat Report.
MedStar Health was also reported to be attacked by ransomware and they did ransomware recovery immediately by shutting down their email and EHR systems to ensure that the malware doesn’t spread further. Nearly 10 hospitals in MedStar have had their operations come to an abrupt stop and 250 outpatient facilities were halted as a result of the attack. This puts in perspective how important ransomware recovery is in healthcare.