Hospitals from coast to coast have seen a surge in patients combined with concerns around critical equipment shortage stemming from the coronavirus pandemic. But while these healthcare providers worry about having enough beds and ventilators to take care of the onslaught of critical patients, they also have to worry about the higher risk of falling victim to sophisticated and widespread cyberattacks.
Cyberattacks and COVID-19’s Impacts on Hospitals
Ransomware attacks, in which hackers get access to a network and demand payment to return access, have presented a growing threat to hospitals since the start of the year, when news surrounding the oncoming pandemic landed in the U.S.
Experts are warning that they expect to see an increase in attacks and have implored lawmakers here in the country to take action and protect the health sector from the potential financial and reputational risks they face on account of cyberthreats.
The Rise of Ransomware
Cybercriminals are using ransomware to hold information and finances from hospitals and medical services hostage, preventing them from accessing vital files and data until a ransom is paid. For example, a public health district in Illinois ended up paying hackers a major ransom worth $350,000 in March. And while major ransoms like this might not be as common, even amid these unprecedented times, it is highly probable that more hackers will continue to target health care agencies, even as the pandemic slows to a halt.
In other Cybersecurity News, industry experts have also looked at the ransomware and cyberattacks on a global scale as parts of the United Kingdom and Europe have fallen victim to the same issues as well. While attacks that hone-in on the vulnerable are not new, the increase in attacks comes at a moment in history when health care systems are trying to focus on saving lives instead of worrying about someone or some group infiltrating their data.
With thousands of cyberattacks occurring since the full-on spread of COVID-19 hit the U.S., hospitals are being subjected to demands of anywhere between hundreds of thousand of dollars and numbers in the low millions. Regardless of price, in the long run, any financial demand puts a hospital in a bind, needing as many funds as possible to restock supplies for the potential follow-up spread next flu and cold season.
Hospitals are not alone in terms of having to deal with this new wave of ransomware attacks. From state and local governments to local school districts, ransomware has affected all types of different industries.
To help combat the potential fallout of dealing with data and/or financial loss due to demands from a cyberattack, multiple software and cybersecurity groups are offering cybersecurity services to hospitals and healthcare services at no cost.
But beyond taking advantage of free services, hospitals can use a number of tips to keep awareness around cybersecurity high, no matter what they’re facing. Whether it’s avoiding clicking on pop-up ads or clicking on links in emails, even ones that seem legitimate, hospitals and their employees should practice proper cybersecurity methods to limit as much exposure as possible to ransomware attacks.
While the world and all its industries have been completely upended by spread of COVID-19, hospitals can still stay vigilant in their quest to avoid financial ruin and data loss.
About Highland Risk
At Highland Risk, we use our expertise and experience to provide insurance information and programs to those who serve long-term care and senior living facilities. Since 2007, we’ve been offering insurance and risk management plans designed to help our agents give their clients the ability to achieve continued growth while simultaneously protecting against loss, containing costs and increasing profitability. With three offices to serve you in Chicago, Illinois; Phoenix, Arizona; and Burlington, Connecticut, we do everything we can to make your experience with us as professional and transparent as possible. To learn more, contact us at (877) 890-9301.