Ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations have devastating results for providers & patients

Ransomware is one of the most popular types of malware that cybercriminals use to wreak havoc on all sorts of organizations.
IT network security issues
Health organizations have also become victims of cyber attacks in recent years. Due to the pressure that arises in these organizations when they cannot operate, there is a good chance that the organization will pay a ransom. Let’s take a look at what the consequences can be and what measures these organizations can take to prevent this in the future.

What are the dangers?

The main dangers for health organizations are computers and electronics that are used every day to care for people. From hospitals to healthcare facilities, we rely more and more on the use of computers. This is also where the greatest danger lies since all medical data of patients are stored in digital files.

In the worst case, even an entire clinic can be closed. Because cybercriminals destroy patient records in an attack, it can be no longer possible for doctors to provide the proper care. The patients are then usually transferred to another clinic to receive proper care there.

Why are healthcare institutions so popular?

One of the main reasons that more and more cybercriminals are targeting healthcare facilities is the urgency to act quickly. If the hospital is down, this can cause not only the loss of data but, of course, the loss of human life as well. This rush makes health care facilities much easier to give in to pay the ransom.

A second factor also immediately comes into play, namely the rise of cryptocurrencies. This payment method has made it a lot easier for hackers to get paid online without finding out where the money goes or who is behind the online wallet. Cybercriminals take advantage of this again.

A final factor that plays a role is connectivity within healthcare institutions. It must be possible to view patient files on every computer in a healthcare institution. Because all these computers are connected, and they are all controlled by people, the chance of an error is much greater. If cyber criminals manage to break into one computer, there is a good chance that they will infect all other computers as well.

What measures can healthcare institutions take?

Fortunately, it is also possible for healthcare institutions to take measures themselves that can limit the danger. Below we have listed a few of them.

Install a VPN

One of the most important measures is to install a VPN. With a VPN, you have the option to encrypt data as soon as it is exchanged online. This includes downloading or uploading patient data.

This also gives healthcare institutions an extra advantage, namely that employees have the option of working from home. With a VPN on the router, they can connect to the hospital’s server so that they can still consult the patient files. This allows them, for example, to complete administrative tasks that they do not have time for at work.

A virus scanner

A virus scanner is also an important measure that we would recommend. With a virus scanner, malware can be detected at an early stage, and measures can be taken. This way, the file containing the virus can be restored, the virus can be prevented from spreading further on your computer, or the file can be deleted if it can no longer be recovered.

Two-factor authentication

And a final measure is to use two-factor authentication, especially if employees decide to work from home. In that case, it is not enough just to connect to a VPN. By having employees enter an extra code that they receive on the smartphone, hackers no longer have enough of a computer’s password.

By implementing these three measures, healthcare facilities can be better protected against the online dangers of malware. We first recommend a VPN, but also a virus scanner and two-factor authentication should not be missing.