Increase in Ransomware Attacks Within Healthcare Industry

hospital ward 1338585Currently, the healthcare industry is experiencing over 20 data loss incidents per day due to ransomware attacks. So far, nearly $100,000 worth of ransom payments have been made to specific Bitcoin accounts in 2016.

In one of the latest occurrences, multiple hospitals in Lincolnshire, England had to cancel hundreds of scheduled operations, outpatient appointments, and diagnostic procedures, citing a computer virus infiltrating the National Health Service (NHS) network.

This incident forced the NHS to shut down all major systems inside its shared IT infrastructure in order to remove the malware. Patients experiencing major trauma and high-risk women in labor were transferred to nearby hospitals.

According to researcher Brian Krebs:

"Earlier this year, experts began noticing that cybercriminals were using ransomware to target hospitals — organizations that are heavily reliant on instant access to patient records. In March 2016, Henderson, Ky.-based Methodist Hospital shut down its computer systems after an infection from the Locky strain of ransomware. Just weeks before that attack, a California hospital that was similarly besieged with ransomware paid a $17,000 ransom to get its files back.”

User training and awareness is always key when it comes to IT security, said Shawn Pope of Nuspire’s Security Analytics Team.

“Giving users the knowledge that these types of attacks exist and what to look for can be the difference when it comes to social engineering techniques,” said Pope.

As always, Nuspire’s SAT strongly recommends against paying the ransom when infected with ransomware.

“Paying the ransom just continues to fuel this attack method. Both consumers and enterprises should have full encrypted image-based backups stored offsite,” Pope said. “Also, ensure your backup process actually works by testing quarterly. Storing these offsite reduces the risk of an internal infection spreading to your backups."

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