Ransomware Attacks In The Healthcare Industry

May 28, 2020 / in Cybersecurity, IT Trends, / by Number8

Ransomware attacks have become increasingly common in recent years. Individuals involved attack healthcare systems and other installations that contain critical private information to get data that is valuable to their targets. According to recent reports, damages caused by ransomware attacks are increasing, totaling billions of dollars every year. For example, a Boardman, Ohio-based Urology practice paid thousands of dollars to hackers during a ransomware attack in order to get their data unlocked, as reported by Ciso Mag. These attacks take over established systems and only release them when the ransom is paid. Doctors and medical staff are locked out and can't access important patient files, which can place people at serious risk.

Why is Ransomware so Challenging?

Ransomware attacks are challenging because they are very difficult to prevent. Hackers constantly change and improve their strategies and many have resources at their disposal to invade poorly secured systems. The healthcare infrastructure is particularly vulnerable because it doesn't have the best cybersecurity. Ransomware attacks may happen when employees accidentally download malicious code into a hospital's systems. For example, something as simple as opening an attachment from an unknown source can create a dangerous hole in your security. Employees receive hundreds of emails every day so it is easier to miss warning signs, which enables malicious code to enter into the IT infrastructure. While firewalls and internet security systems can stop some of these attacks, they can’t fully prevent them. That’s one of the reasons why these attacks have become so common and can even happen to systems with relatively strong security measures in place. Attackers used to target small and less secure IT systems in the past but they have changed their strategy and have become bolder. It is important to take aggressive steps that will help keep these invasions at bay.

How to Secure Your Systems Against an Attack

Stopping these attacks will require strategy and a careful approach. Companies need to come up with a multifaceted response policy that involves employee training, prevention, early detection, planned response to an attack, and strategies for dealing with a locked-down system. Here are some suggestions that can help:

1. Secure Your Systems

The first step to prevent a ransomware attack is to secure the IT infrastructure as much as possible. Install internet-facing security software like antivirus, firewalls, and other such programs. They will act as the first layer of security to block most malicious codes. Make sure essential programs on all devices accessing the company’s network are up-to-date. Software developers release upgrades with protections against the latest threats regularly. Outdated software programs have more security holes than new programs.

2. Control Access

Controlling access is a very efficient way to ensure your systems are more secure. Create multiple levels of access based on an employee’s level of authority in the organization. Make sure people can’t get into sections that aren’t relevant to their responsibilities. For example, a nurse from the cardiology department has no reason to get into the oncology department’s servers. Restricting access as much as possible can help keep vital information secure. Set up privileges for different departments and different levels of employees.

3. Training

Ransomware attacks happen because of ignorance. Many employees don’t know how to detect and avoid malicious code. They unknowingly download these codes onto company servers and create a vulnerable access point. Comprehensive training and regular seminars will help keep employees alert to ensure they remain vigilant.

4. Create a Response Plan

If ransomware code is already in your system, you need to trace it and try isolating it as quickly as possible. A fast response and strong emergency procedures will help protect your information and limit damages. It will also provide IT teams a clear guideline on how to handle the threat. Just paying the ransom isn't enough and it won't make your systems safe. Ransomware gangs maintain backdoor access to their victim's infrastructure for months and may attack at any time if you don't upgrade your security. It pays to stay vigilant and ensure your security is up-to-date as possible. As an information technology company with many years of experience, we’ve helped hundreds of clients leverage technology to become more efficient and increase profits. Interested in learning more? Let’s connect. Send us an email or give us a call at 502-212-0978 and we can get the conversation started.

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