In the past few years, ransomware has been the top threat to several institutions, particularly within the healthcare sector. Cybercriminals are developing increasingly sophisticated techniques and are using new methods to launch often destructive attacks. As such the dangers of cybercrime require constant surveillance and an active approach.
ransomware is a kind of malware that disables or blocks the system until users pay a ransom. Certain attacks block the screen of the user, while others block the files themselves. Criminals commit the crime by encrypting the files, then making an online payment of the ransom, which is the mechanism for unlocking the decryption code. Whatever the specific method is, the principle remains the same. By blocking users from the information they require to gain access, criminals gain an advantage over their victims and can demand financial compensation.
Examining the most recent trends in online crime, SonicWall has revealed a 148% increase in ransom-related crimes across the globe. 2021 was among the worst years ever recorded, confirming the beginning of a trend that has been developing for a number of years. The majority of these cyberattacks are targeted the healthcare industry. With valuable data and a limited amount of budget, hospitals are perfect targets for cybercriminals who are greedy.
According to an investigation conducted in 2021 that was conducted in 2021, 42% of health care delivery organizations had suffered multiple ransom-related threats during the past two years, while 36% of them had experienced an attack from a third party. These numbers show the horrendous extent of the issue. Cybercriminals who are not scrupulous take advantage of the vulnerabilities within the system to take down certain of the most important institutions in the world, the ones which promote wellness and health. For anyone working in the health field fighting against the attackers is the only option.
What is the reason Healthcare an ideal target to extort ransomware?
It’s no accident that medical institutions are more vulnerable to security threats than other sectors. The importance and the sensitivity of data from patients is a major drawpoint for criminals as well as an combination of cultural and technological issues in the field leaves medical facilities particularly vulnerable. All of these create hospitals and other medical facilities vulnerable for hackers with a high-tech savvy.
Hospitals enjoy a closer connection with patients that many businesses do with their customers. In order to provide the best healthcare, hospitals accumulate and store all kinds of patient information, a lot of which is private and confidential. For criminals and hackers the information that is confidential is extremely valuable. Not only does such data fetch high prices on the illicit market and also allow criminals to request more ransom. Medical facilities must realize that they are as appealing to cybercriminals today as banks were to criminals of the past.
With a plethora of computer systems and staff who are distracted by other issues healthcare systems are especially vulnerable. Medical equipment is a target for criminals, providing vulnerabilities to exploit and the need for healthcare workers to remotely access data creates more weaknesses. Hospital employees, who must work to care for the needs of their clients, are usually too busy to think about security. When there’s a rush and someone needs assistance in another room, it’s hard to be able to discern the dangers of opening an unsuspecting email. People also tend towards efficiency over all else, which makes them less likely to agree to fundamental changes in the name of security.
Alongside the inherent dangers, there are issues with finances to be considered. The funding is usually tight in the medical industry and many medical providers are struggling to keep their businesses afloat. However, businesses should recognize that paying for security is far better than enduring a cyber attack. If you send a single phishing email an incredibly busy medical facility could be slowed down, and the ransom can be much higher than the security measures could have.
Important Healthcare Ransomware Attacks
In the wake of recent attacks, certain major crimes are noteworthy for their scale and extent. Analyzing these incidents provides important insights into the nature contemporary cybercrime. It also provides insight into how health institutions can take action to ensure their security.
Although each of these events each had its own unique characteristics but they also shared a few aspects which are common to the majority of ransom-related scams. Each time malware was spread throughout the system at an alarming rate. Each attack resulted in substantial loss, whether in cash or personal information. The three incidents also made the affected institutions intensify their efforts to protect themselves. When you’ve learned about these cases and the implications for your security, you should rethink your own security measures before it’s too to late.
Ryuk Ransomware Attack on Universal Health Services
In the year 2020, Universal Health Services (UHS) was the victim of an attack from Ryuk which cost the business approximately $67 million. With more than 90,000 employees who serve 3.5 million patients across both the United States and the United Kingdom, UHS is a huge organization. With a huge budget and institutional power, however, the organization was unable to stop the nefarious incursion.
UHS has been able to resume full operations a little over one month after the incident started. After reestablishing IT capabilities, UHS’s revenue suffered a significant drop. Health centers could not keep up with the amount of patients. Payment was delayed, and additional workers were required to get the computer systems functioning. Although the situation was financially catastrophic, UHS managed to prevent the misuse or theft of sensitive information.
The UHS cyberattack is the latest in a trend. Ryuk, which is a particular kind of ransom-seeking malware is frequently used to penetrate medical establishments. Numerous companies experience significant operating losses, while they are restoring their technology capabilities.
Highly sophisticated Phishing Campaign for Magellan Health
As UHS, Magellan Health is an Fortune 500 company with a large number of customers. Like UHS, Magellan has been the victim of an attack on its cyber security. In the year 2020, a clever spear phishing scheme that was sophisticated was able to fool an employee, and then inserted malware into the company’s infrastructure. All done, 1.7 million individuals had their personal information compromised.
Spear phishing is the method by which cybercriminals send a particular, personalized email in order to trick people into giving them access to an account. In this instance the fake email claimed to come from a Magellan Health Client. Once the malware entered its system, it retrieved sensitive information on workers and patients. At the point that the company realized that its system was compromised, it was way too late.
Conti Ransomware Attack via Phishing Email on Ireland’s HSE
Private firms aren’t the only entities susceptible to criminal activity. In May 2021, criminals took on those working for the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland. When the HSE system was compromised, hackers gained access to high-level accounts and were able to steal huge amounts of sensitive data. Since the data was already being used by criminals, all that the Irish administration could do was watch this dark internet and attempt to stop personal information from being released.
Similar to as in the Magellan case, the criminals made use of the phishing email in their assault on HSE. If an uninitiated employee opened the Microsoft Excel file that had been in one of the emails, they were able to welcome malware into the organization’s digital infrastructure. The malicious software spread throughout the system before it was destroyed within a couple of weeks.
The HSE incident exposed the vulnerability of health care institutions. It is important to note that the HSE is a large institution. It employs more workers than any other government-owned organization in Ireland The employees have access to their workspaces online via more than 70,000 devices. The security of such a vast network can be a huge problem which is why it is a matter of fact that the Irish government has acknowledged that a variety of flaws made the system vulnerable. In focusing on enhancing security measures in the HSE, they hope that the HSE hopes to stop the possibility of future malware attacks.
What is HTML0? Healthcare Organizations Can Defend Themselves
Protecting yourself from cyber-attacks requires an active strategy which focuses on prevention. Malware is extremely difficult to eliminate after it has made its way into the computer system. Keep the malicious software off initially is always the best choice. While circling around the wagons to guard against malware, you must consider:
Backups of data
In the first place, you must do everything you can to spread awareness of the need for cyber security among your employees. Like the Magellan and HSE instances show, large-scale cyberattacks can result from an employee’s mistake. The training of employees to recognize potential attacks by phishing is among the most effective methods to improve security for the entire organization.
The backup of your important data can help reduce the impact should you experience an unexpected infiltration. The thing that makes malware so destructive is usually the destabilizing effect on an organization. If you store data in multiple locations, it will be simpler to manage regular operations, even if attackers have blocked elements in your network.
The advancements in machine learning offer an additional weapon in the combat against cybercrime. AI-enabled machine-learning security software for emails can spot suspicious activities and flag fraudulent phishing schemes. They study and learn from human communication patterns and relationships to guard against the most advanced threats which include malware. In the battle against an adversary as destructive like cybercrime this type defense could prove crucial.
Ransom-related crimes are increasing and medical facilities are more likely to be in the target of the attack. The combination of sensitive patient information and vulnerability make hospitals and similar institutions the most attractive targets for criminal groups. Recent attacks against UHS, Magellan Health, and the Irish HSE illustrate how damaging these attacks could be.
To safeguard your company from this constant threat that is constantly evolving, you must adopt an alert, proactive approach. Instilling a culture of caution and backing up your data and using the most up-to-date machine-intelligence security for email can assist in keeping attackers at distance.