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Hospitals Aren’t Safe from Malware Attacks

Reports show increasing attacks on medical IT infrastructure

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Hospital and medical networks are still ripe targets for malicious attacks, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite putting literal lives in danger, third-party hackers are eager to take advantage and willingly lob malicious campaigns against susceptible targets.

The CyberPeace Insitute, an organization dedicated to cybersecurity and raising awareness about cyber-threats, called for both accountability and raised the alarm about continued third-party efforts that target hospital networks. Organic to the rise of a pandemic, attackers take advantage of misinformation and outdated security models to launch their campaigns, resulting in serious data loss and putting patients at serious risk.

Indeed, regardless of the serious chaos presented by Coronavirus and the incredible stress it placed on hospitals across the United States, hackers were, of course, indifferent. More so, because hackers know hospitals are left with few options after a successful ransomware strike. Medical networks cannot afford to shut down when treating patients, left with almost no options if breached.

As you know, ransomware encrypts target networks and demands payment, typically in cryptocurrency form. This can range from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars, depending on the infected host and the data at stake.

The unspoken toll

It isn’t just patients put at risk, either, it’s all professionals involved at every level. Often overworked with limited support and resources, nurses and doctors were struggling to aid patients suffering from COVID-19, on top of the typical emergencies routinely occurring. Their networks, essential tools for communication and record-keeping, was and is a foundation they need to perform their duties effectively. 

When the tool is lost, it puts a serious strain on the medical staff. Mentally, physically, and even emotionally too. Loss of support makes carrying out tasks exceptionally difficult on every level, and the knowledge patients can’t be treated effectively is a harrowing thought indeed. Overall, it reduces performance across the board and hurts everyone involved. 

In other severe cases, patients are moved to different hospitals to treat their conditions. Again, that puts them at risk if they’re constrained by time. Literal lives put in danger because of ransomware threats, and a reason why it’s a serious problem.

Why healthcare networks?

Even before COVID-19, hospital networks were largely at risk. The pandemic only put their ankles to the fire and worsening an already fragile IT infrastructure. 

We’ve touched on the issues regarding medical networks before. For example, some medical networks were still using Windows XP as their legacy model, a seriously outdated OS that fell victim to the WannaCry ransomware attack. Additionally, hospital networks are bound by different logistics, ranging from record-keeping to transferring records to other doctors, among other things. Coupled with this, healthcare security and its IT are often underfunded, creating serious gaps in protection. And, even with HIPAA in place, regulations are not always followed, leading to yet more security leaks and other dangers.

It leads, ultimately, to easy money. Ransomware attackers have fewer hurdles to overcome. And, they know hospitals are the likeliest to pay. That’s because they simply cannot afford to go without their IT resources and medical network. It’s ugly business, but threat-actors have shown callous disinterest in the human cost of their actions.

If you’re concerned about ransomware and malware attacks as a medical network, you may need help. Contact Bytagig today for more info.

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