Many hospitals are already stretched thin in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Hackers now have the perfect sweet spot for attack. As a result, threat actors have targeted the healthcare sector in a stream of attacks. They have impacted nearly two dozen hospitals across the United States.
For example, hackers infiltrated the University of Vermont Medical Center in late October of this year. The attack impacted the phone lines first. Next, the internet went down. The infrastructure went down along with it.
The staff scrambled to access medical records, databases, and other imperative tools. The chaos that ensued is one that other hospitals have also been faced with.
Healthcare sector held hostage
Cyber criminals are using technologies like Ryuk ransomware to target the healthcare sector. Ryuk has been linked to two Russian cybercriminal groups, Wizard Spider and CryptoTech.
Using this ransomware, threat actors can lock hospital systems and demand a ransom. Hospitals are an easy target because they depend on their systems. They are often more willing to quickly meet the demands of hackers because of this dependence.
As the healthcare system has been burdened, that reliance has expanded even more. Criminal organizations are now seizing this opportunity to extort hospitals.
Of course this threat to the healthcare sector goes beyond the enterprise level. Private healthcare information is also at risk. Such sensitive information is susceptible to extortion at the individual level.
After all, ransomware can open up access to patient details like healthcare history, social security numbers, personal contact, and billing information.
How should the healthcare sector respond?
Cyber crime has increased across the board this year, but the threat to the healthcare sector is even more troubling. The threat goes beyond financial impact. Attacks on hospitals can be life-or-death scenarios.
Members of the healthcare sector must be vigilant, as threats become more sophisticated. Hospitals should also look for opportunities to work with peers, leaders in other sectors, and law enforcement agencies.
Starfish is here to help small to mid-sized business in the healthcare industry. Take one step in the right direction to a safer, more secure environment for your practice and your patients. Schedule a consultation today.