Seniors Beware: FBI Warns Data Theft From U.S. Healthcare System

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The FBI has recently stated that hospitals and healthcare providers are experiencing “an increased and imminent cybercrime threat.” The alert said that malicious criminal groups are targeting the U.S. healthcare system with attacks aiming for “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

As hospitals continue to respond to the coronavirus crisis throughout our country, leaving your security and privacy continue to be vulnerable to identity theft. Is your data safe? 

What is “ransomware”?

The way “ransomware” works is that it scrambles its target’s data into gibberish until they pay up- aka they hold your data hostage and ask for a ransom. One ransomware case in Germany led to the death of a patient, but that was a rare and worst-case scenario experience. 

Ransomware criminals steal data from their targets before encrypting networks and use it for extortion. They wait for moments when they believe they can extract the highest payments from their targets. The Coronavirus has left hospitals especially vulnerable. 

In 2020 alone, a total of 59 U.S. health care providers or systems have been impacted by ransomware, disrupting patient care at up to 510 facilities.

Ryuk

Independent security experts have named the most serious ransomware currently, Ryuk. The ransomware has already impacted at least five U.S. hospitals the week of October 22nd alone and could affect hundreds more. 

Four health care institutions have been reported hit by the ransomware last week, three belonging to the St. Lawrence Health System in upstate New York and the Sky Lakes Medical Center in Klamath Falls, Oregon.

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Hospitals take precautions

The federal warning also included advising hospitals to take additional precautions or expanding efforts to knock down the systems of cybercriminals in order to protect their valuable data.

Pandemic and ransomware

Over the past 18 months, the U.S. has been the victim of ransomware unlike before. Major cities such as Baltimore to Atlanta, local governments, and schools have been hit especially hard.

Hospitals and clinics are being attacked by ransomware due to their data expansion being connected to internet-enabled medical devices, many of which are poorly secured. Meanwhile, hospital administrators have been slow to update software, encrypt data, train staff in cyber hygiene, and recruit security specialists, leaving them vulnerable to cyber-attacks.

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