It is terrifying to imagine the negative consequences to the healthcare industry, should it be a victim of such a serious hacking attack like ransomware. So, how should medical organizations build their security systems in order to protect themselves against ransomware malware?
- What is a Ransomware Attack?
- What are recent examples of Ransomware Attacks?
- Why is a Ransomware Attack dangerous?
- Why do criminals target hospitals with ransomware?
- How to protect against ransomware in healthcare
Protecting health and saving the life of patients is important. Protecting their personal and medical data is important, too. The first responsibility is the focus of doctors, but security is a job for technical healthcare specialists. In this article, we will tell you how to protect your clinic from one of the most common and dangerous types of viruses: ransomware.
What is a Ransomware Attack?
A ransomware attack is a data breach where valuable files are stolen and blocked. Once this happens, an attacker blackmails the target and makes them pay for the encryption key to get their data released. Usually, the attacker sets a deadline for payment to be made, however, there is no guarantee that access to the data will be provided after making payment.
Ransomware attacks are especially dangerous since it is very easy to infect a device with this kind of virus. According to research, education, government, energy, and healthcare industries are the most vulnerable to these kinds of data breaches.
What are recent examples of Ransomware Attacks?
A large-scale attack happened recently. At the end of September 2020, computer systems for Universal Health Services, which serve hospitals in more than 400 locations, were attacked by a ransomware virus. It took three weeks to recover. Many hospitals in the system were forced to manually complete outpatient records. The attack started over the weekend and by Monday none of the computers in the system turned on.
Also, on October 17 a ransomware attack took place on a hospital in Michigan. And in mid-September this year a similar data breach in one of the hospitals in Dusseldorf led to the death of a patient as the hospital was forced to transfer urgent patients to other clinics.
Why is a Ransomware Attack dangerous?
Ransomware data attacks and breaches at hospitals are especially dangerous for the following reasons:
- There is no way to restore your files except by paying to regain access. Healthcare ransomware attacks are dangerous since the only way to cope with them is to prevent one. No software will unblock the stolen and encrypted files, so the wisest strategy is to protect your clinic before it happens.
- There is no guarantee that you will get your files back even if you do pay. Attackers are dishonest people by nature. After hackers attack a health computer system you may become a victim twice by losing your files and then losing money that you paid to get them back if the hackers decide not to restore your access to the data they were holding hostage.
- Hospital ransomware attacks can be very costly. If it happens, you may face legal penalties, have damage to your reputation, and need to invest in employee training, hospital cyberattack prevention, and a system for protection.
- Ransomware systems spread quickly. After one device is infected, all the devices connected to the network will get infected, too.
Why do criminals target hospitals with ransomware?
What are the reasons for ransomware data breaches at hospitals? Below are the top three:
- Lots of valuable data. Ransomware attacks on hospitals are attractive to hackers since every hospital stores and process huge medical data arrays that are valuable for the hospital and its patients. What’s more, medical data is very expensive if sold on the black market so victims would likely agree to pay a lot for its security.
- Protection loopholes. Eighty-nine percent of healthcare organizations reported having experienced at least one data breach. This makes the healthcare industry one of the most vulnerable ones for ransomware attacks and other kinds of data breaches.
- Ransomware is easy to create and launch. What’s more, it is very easy to create a ransomware system. According to research, it can be created in three steps and even a person without a strong technical background can do it. Also, it is quite easy to spread the virus with the help of emails. So, the healthcare ransomware attack is a perfect scheme for attackers because it requires little effort and comes with a huge payoff.
How to protect against ransomware in healthcare
As you can see, ransomware attacks in healthcare are quite dangerous and costly. However, there are ways to prevent them and protect your clinic from this type of data breach.
Use preventive measures
It is easier to prevent than to cure as they say in the medical field, and this also applies to technology. You should use an up-to-date, strong, and secure antivirus system on all corporate computers. What’s more, it’s always better to use a premium package since it has more protective functions.
Back-up your data
Paying for ransomware once can encourage the attacker to try again. To discourage the hacker from targeting you again or other institutions and industries, you should have your data copied, protected, and safely stored in a cloud server that has a limited list of employees that can access it. It will be easier to recover the data after a breach if it is stored on a cloud server.
Consider insurance coverage
With an insurance contract that covers all your costs in the case of a ransomware attack, you will sleep easier. It doesn’t eliminate the need for other measures, however, it’s good to know that you won’t be forced to pay for the recovery out of your pocket if it does happen.
Utilize AI and ML anti-fraud solutions
Systems that are powered by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) are able to track real-time data and send alarms in the case of a suspicious email or other indicators of a planned ransomware attack. These technologies are also good when it comes to data protection, insurance scam detection, data analysis, drug accounting, and other essential tasks for the hospital.
When it comes to medical data protection, you should be as responsible for it as you are for the health of your patients. There are a lot of measures you can implement yourself to protect your clinic from ransomware attacks, and we are also here to help you with the creating of a customized protective solution. Share your concerns with us at email@example.com to find a way to protect your data with the help of tech innovations!