by Shawn McEvoy
Ransomware attacks have been in the headlines recently, with attacks surging across industries. Government and business targets have ranged from gas line operators, meat suppliers and auto manufacturers to educational institutions, city governments and local police departments – and everything in between. The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency defines ransomware as an “ever-evolving form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption.”
A rise in ransomware attacks on medical and healthcare facilities is of special concern, as they are resulting in critical life and safety consequences amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. According to The Crime Report, in just the first seven months of 2021, there were 38 ransomware attacks affecting approximately 963 hospitals and clinics across the United States. In 2020, there were 80 separate incidents affecting (only) 560 sites.
As a result of these attacks, hospitals are forced to turn away patients, cancel surgeries and reroute ambulances to other locations (sometimes as much as an hour’s drive) while their IT systems are crashed and knocked offline. One recent study conducted by global market research firm IPSOS revealed that 48% of U.S. hospitals had taken their networks offline because of ransomware attacks in the previous six-month period.
As a result of ransomware attacks, hospitals are forced to turn away patients, cancel surgeries and reroute ambulances to other locations.
The proliferation of ransomware attacks across all industries is troubling, but it is especially worrisome to see attacks on hospitals and the critical problems they can cause.
IPSOS | Perspectives in Healthcare Security | https://tinyurl.com/ttjaa267
The Crime Report.org | Newest Target of Cyber Attacks: America’s Hospitals | https://thecrimereport.org/2021/08/18/hospitals-cyberattacks/
U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency | Ransomware 101 | https://www.cisa.gov/stopransomware/ransomware-101