Ransomware Healthcare Numbers will Continue to Climb

Stu Sjouwerman
Stu Sjouwerman

Guest post by Stu Sjouwerman, founder and CEO, KnowBe4.

A story about hospital ransomware or a compromised computer seems to emerge weekly. It is no surprise that healthcare breaches have been on a steady increase for the past five years. Loss of personal health information (PHI) poses a financial risk for health care institutions, expected to cost the industry in the neighborhood of 6.2 billion dollars.

By the numbers

Despite the prevalence of cybersecurity incidents, a study by Ponemon Institute in May 2016 showed that the majority of healthcare organizations and business associates were most concerned with negligent or careless employees causing healthcare data breaches.

Sixty-nine percent of healthcare organizations believe they are more vulnerable to a data breach than other industries.

When asked what the greatest threat was to healthcare data security, the majority of healthcare organizations stated employee inaction or error (69 percent). Rounding out the top three concerns were cybercriminals at 45 percent and the use of insecure mobile devices at 36 percent.

Employee error was also the top concern for business associates (53 percent), followed by use of cloud services (46 percent) and cyberattacks (36 percent).

Ransomware is currently one of the most prevalent threats to Healthcare. A June survey done by KnowBe4 of Healthcare IT professionals shows 44 percent of healthcare organizations have been hit with ransomware, 6 percent above the national average of 38 percent. 65 percent of these IT professionals know someone personally who has been hit and another 47 percent would pay the ransom if faced with a scenario of failed backups. With some healthcare ransomware demanding five figures, this can get pretty expensive.

Why hospitals are the perfect targets

I was interviewed by WIRED magazine’s Kim Zetter. She’s written a great article that analyzes why hospitals are perfect targets for ransomware. She started out with: “Ransomware has been an internet scourge for more than a decade, but only recently has it made mainstream media headlines. That’s primarily due to a new trend in ransomware attacks: the targeting of hospitals and other healthcare facilities.”

Now, Who Else Should Be Scared?

Hospitals have shown themselves to be soft targets and are under full attack by several cybercrime gangs using different attack vectors. The SamSam ransom gang attacks server vulnerabilities in JBoss apps using an open source pentesting tool called JexBoss, so these are targeted attacks are based on scans the bad guys did. Cisco technical background:http://blog.talosintel.com/2016/03/samsam-ransomware.html

That is an exception though; the vast majority of ransomware infections are caused by phishing emails. Next are malicious links and ads leading to compromised websites with Exploit Kits causing drive-by-infections.

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