Why has Healthcare become a Major Ransomware Target?

Along with many other industries, the healthcare industry is rapidly changing and the technology that is used continues to improve. More advanced technology means more connections to the internet, resulting in increased attack surface for hackers and cyberattacks. According to the Department of Health & Human Services, by May of 2021 there were already 48 ransomware incidents in the United States alone that impacted the health sector. The data that was leaked ranged from a few simple screenshots of information to an entire terabyte of data. Axis Cyber Labs is comprised of cybersecurity experts who offer training and other security services to help companies stay safe in cyberspace. The rise in ransomware attacks on the healthcare industry this year begs the question: “Why healthcare?”

What is Ransomware?

Unfortunately, there is a lot of bad on the internet to go along with all of the good. Ransomware is a unique type of malware. Once executed it encrypts all data on any storage device(s) attached to the system it was run on. Whereas other types of malware are intended to be stealthy and avoid detection, ransomware is intentionally noisey.  It encrypts and tells the victim if he/she has been victimized, often displaying a sort of “ransom note” that makes a threat or demands money. You can learn more about ransomware in the U.S. and even report an incident with The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA)

Why is Healthcare a Ransomware Target?

1) Lack of Cybersecurity Training

Healthcare organizations tend to have a tremendous amount of costs, between supplies, technology, salaries, and many other factors. Numerous healthcare companies neglect the importance of investing in Security Awareness Training, and often don’t consider it until it is too late. Hackers are becoming more aware of this pattern in the healthcare industry, and are taking advantage of it. Data sometimes needs to be accessed remotely in the healthcare industry, which makes it even more vulnerable, especially if the healthcare workers are not properly educated on the risks of online threats. Not only is cybersecurity often neglected, but since the start of the pandemic healthcare workers are busier than ever, often struggling with staffing issues and being pulled in multiple directions. This takes even more focus off of security since their focus is on so many other factors.

2) Vulnerable Systems

In addition to a lack of investment in security, one must also consider the sheer number of medical devices in the healthcare industry. There are thousands of devices, from defibrillators to CAT scans, that offer points of attack for hackers. Since each individual device might not be secure, each can be easy for hackers to infiltrate. Typically, ransomware targets larger-scale systems or wealthy or important people, so while these devices might not be their end goal, they can act as an entry point for larger attacks.

3)Vulnerable Systems

As a direct result of the first two threats, a third threat becomes more apparent. Since hackers are aware of healthcare workers not being trained in cybersecurity, and because they are aware of the vast amount of devices that they could potentially hack, this looks like an open door to more important systems that contain personal information– the very information ransomware often holds hostage. Penetration Testing services are a good way for healthcare companies to get ahead of the hackers by finding these vulnerabilities ahead of time.

Get in Touch with the Cybersecurity Experts

Let’s face it, there are a lot of components to cybersecurity and even more so when your company has a large team of employees. The healthcare industry is at risk of being targeted by ransomware attacks, and the best way to prevent that from happening is becoming educated and getting ahead of the hackers. Contact Axis Cyber Labs to inquire about our services or ask us any questions that you have. Our aim is to help keep your networks and applications secure while keeping your employees and your data safe. Ransomware is on the rise, so let’s make sure that your data is safe and that your employees know what to look out for! 

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