Cyber attacks continue to threaten the security of businesses and organizations. One of the more detrimental types of attacks would be the infiltration of ransom malware or ransomware. As soon as ransomware infects your system, it locks up your files and prevents you from gaining access. Until you pay a ransom, whether it be through wiring of funds or cryptocurrency, your files remain encrypted and unaccessible.
In May 2017, National Health Service hospitals in the UK suffered the overrun of a ransomware attack. The attack resulted in these hospitals having no access to vital patient information. Continuing or issuing treatments and surgeries were stopped as soon as the attack started, and patients were diverted to other healthcare institutions.
At stake isn’t just the information and privacy of patients. More than the compromise and loss of patient data, the patients’ lives are on the line. A ransomware attack could directly result to the cancellation of major operations and urgent appointments. Because healthcare institutions put high value on information, attackers find them to be susceptible, vulnerable victims. An attack could mean the loss of important patient information, loss in revenue due to the halt in operations and recovery costs, or damage the institution’s reputation.
Although these attacks can be powerful, they’re preventable. Healthcare institutions can protect their computer systems through installing updated security software. Cloud backups, recovery plans, and security tests should be executed by organizations to further examine how vulnerable or protected their systems are. It is also advised that healthcare institutions comply to HIPAA regulations or employ staff who are HIPAA compliant. Smaller or independent practitioners can also mitigate the threat by hiring HIPAA-compliant staff or professional virtual medical assistants (VMAs).