healthcare ransomware attacks

by Amelia Paro

Healthcare Ransomware Attacks Become More Common and More Dangerous Worldwide

Cyberattacks against hospitals, medical practices, research centers, drugmakers, and even ambulance companies have been a constant menace during the COVID-19 pandemic. Cybercrime against medical targets has been a steady and increasing problem, but one attack type definitely rules the roost in healthcare: ransomware attacks.

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Ransomware Rocks Healthcare Targets

As more 2020 wrapup reporting comes in, the steady increase in threats against healthcare targets is clear. Cybercriminals took advantage of the pandemic chaos to perpetrate cyberattacks against already stressed healthcare targets, especially ransomware attacks. More than 45% of cyberattacks against healthcare targets in 2020 were ransomware.

That’s a higher percentage than any other industry. Researchers concluded that an average of 35% of breaches in other industries were ransomware-related, leaving healthcare 10% more at risk. An estimated 560 US healthcare targets alone were impacted by ransomware in 2020.

That number doesn’t seem very big, but many healthcare organizations are conglomerates. One breach at a parent company can cause widespread service disruption across the country. When healthcare giant Universal Health Services (UHS) was hit in mid-2020, that cyberattack impacted operations at a network of 400 hospitals at a critical time.

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Don’t Take Chances with Ransomware

Booming cybercrime statistics in 2020 clearly show that now is not the time to be taking any chances in your IT environment. Although budgets may be tight, the risk of cybercrime is high. It’s far less expensive and damaging to enact security measures to defend against threats like ransomware now than pay for the recovery cost of a cyberattack later – especially in healthcare, where regulatory penalties can send that cost skyrocketing.

That’s why every healthcare business, from a single practice physician’s office to a sprawling hospital conglomerate, has to take ransomware threats seriously. The most common delivery system for ransomware is a phishing email. By increasing security awareness training that focuses on phishing resistance, you can reduce your company’s chance of experiencing a damaging cyberattack by up to 70%.

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