Cyber attacks are increasing across a range of industries, and one in which they’re becoming all too common is in the world of healthcare. The nature of these cyber attacks vary, but ransomware attacks are one of the most frequent types of attack used against healthcare organizations.
So why is healthcare so targeted? Read on for why this is happening, what it all means, and how healthcare companies can protect themselves against such threats.
What is Ransomware, and How Does It Work?
Ransomware is a form of malicious software that’s used by an external party to attack a company or individual. In this case, it’s healthcare organizations that are being targeted. The software essentially blocks the victim from accessing their own data until a ransom is paid.
It can enter the network via an email attachment that’s unsuspectingly opened by the victim or some similar method. Once that happens, it can install itself and encrypt the victim’s data, meaning they’re no longer able to view or access data at all. Then, a message is usually displayed demanding the victim pays a ransom if they want access to the data; if the ransom is not paid within a certain time frame, the data is usually destroyed.
Why is the Healthcare Industry in Particular Being Targeted?
One of the first reasons to note regarding why cyber criminals are targeting the healthcare industry right now is the global COVID-19 pandemic. These criminals are exploiting a crisis, attacking medical offices and healthcare facilities that are already overwhelmed and less able to protect themselves.
That’s clearly something that can only be described as morally bankrupt, but it would also be foolish to think that the problem will just go away once the pandemic is over because that’s unlikely to be the case.
Ransomware was already a growing threat before the pandemic, and it’s unlikely that the regularity of these attacks will slow down any time soon. Even outside of times of emergency, healthcare organizations are targeted due to the sensitive patient information they hold and their urgent need to access data to treat patients.
The method of ransomware is a clever one because hospitals are there to care for people and save their lives in many cases. Without access to medical records and information, caring for patients in a facility can be made near impossible. This places extra pressure on hospitals to simply pay the ransom.
How to Protect Against Ransomware Attacks
If you’re involved in the running of a healthcare organization, it’s important to understand what you can do to protect against and ultimately prevent ransomware attacks. With the right healthcare IT setup that places an emphasis on protection against external threats, that will be possible.
Jaime Villatoro, Sr., CEO of Coronainfo, a managed IT service provider specializing in healthcare IT, says, “Healthcare providers should focus on preventative measures to protect themselves from cyber attacks. Many attacks begin with a simple phishing email or spyware, so medical organizations need a comprehensive, proactive security plan to prevent attacks from taking any hold.”
Consult with experts and ensure the latest and most up-to-date software and methods of protection are in place so ransomware attacks can be prevented. With the right approach, it’s certainly possible to combat attacks and ensure your healthcare business doesn’t fall victim to the tactics of these scammers.