Ransomware in Healthcare: Improve Your Detection and Prevention

by Chris Bowen
Chief Privacy & Security Officer and Founder

As we wrap up this beast of a year, I think many of us in healthcare feel like we’ve been in hand-to-hand combat—the two big obvious battles from 2020: COVID-19 and Ransomware.

I’m not going to talk much about the first topic of COVID-19 because we all know the dire situation we have been in and still are in since March. We head into the holiday season, clinging to all the optimism we can muster as the vaccines began rolling out this month, and we hope for an end to this.

I am going to talk about the second topic of Ransomware. This year I’ve done some presentations, executive round tables, webinars, and published an eBook on this topic to try to help all of us working in healthcare understand two things.

The first thing is this Ransomware problem is enormous, and we cannot ignore it. Organized crime, and now in some cases, nation-state actors, have seen substantial earnings by taking healthcare networks hostage, predominantly from care providers and hospitals battling COVID-19 on the front lines. With each success and ransom paid, more ransomware attacks are guaranteed. While this may sound like a technology problem, and it is, that is not all it is. In healthcare, there are downstream effects for everything that happens. Whatever happens with data eventually affects a human being. In the case of Ransomware taking systems offline, patients don’t get the care they need. Surgeons postpone their surgeries, health records become inaccessible when lives depend on them, and even ambulances have to be diverted to farther locations.

The second thing I want us all to understand is we are not helpless. Sure, it’s easy to feel helpless this year with so much with which we’ve had to deal. But there are steps we can and must take to prevent becoming a victim, just as we can take steps to avoid getting COVID-19. Will they work 100% of the time? No, but they lessen the chances of harm.

With Ransomware, knowledge is power. Understanding why it is happening, how it is happening, and to whom is critical. Gaining insights into how you can detect intruders and knowing the methods they use to gain access is necessary if you are going to stop them before the harm is substantial. Ransomware attacks have warning signs, and attackers leave trails.

To help with this, I have added an eBook to our site that you can download. If you prefer to watch a webinar, here’s one on the same topic. Is this everything you need to solve the problem? No. Is it a start so you can build awareness and shore up your defenses? Yes. From all that we have learned from 2020, we have learned that we must be strong. We have to use the tools available to embrace the power we have to fight back and protect healthcare. Stay strong! People are counting on us.

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