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Ransomware in healthcare: The inevitable truth


Originally published to MedCity News on October 30, 2020 by Chris Bowen, Chief Privacy & Security Officer and Founder, ClearDATA


The best path forward for healthcare organizations is first to understand the characteristics, causes, and indicators of ransomware attacks and then be proactive in taking preventative measures.

By the time you complete this article, there will have been about 15 ransomware attacks – almost one every 10 seconds. And our nation’s hospitals are the primary target.

Ransomware attacks against healthcare providers are becoming more prevalent. In fact, one of the largest attacks in US history happened last month, and just this week, a rare tri-agency ransomware high alert was issued by the FBI, HHS, and CISA. There have been credible reports of a Russian-based cyber-crime operation known as Ryuk planning to deploy targeted ransomware at more than 400 healthcare facilities in the US. However, the potential harm to patient care, the operational damage to a Covid-19-strained healthcare system, the loss of information critical to saving lives, and the astronomical recovery costs can be catastrophic. In the most critical cases, an attack can effectively bring the hospital’s entire system down. Such an event can result in the cancellation of scheduled surgeries, ambulances rerouting, or critical patients being transferred to another facility and or provider mid-treatment.