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How To Protect Your Healthcare Practice from Ransomware Attacks

Topic: How To Protect Your Healthcare Practice from Ransomware Attacks

Ransomware attacks in the healthcare industry have always been a huge concern, and recent studies have found that the rate of these attacks have dramatically increased in the past year.

It’s estimated that attacks on healthcare providers in the U.S. have cost at least $160 million since the first reported ransomware attack in 2016—and that’s only factoring in breaches that impacted healthcare entities with 500 patients or more, so the true cost of these cyber attacks is likely even higher.

This isn’t a new problem. But with the recent surge in telemedicine adoption due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the general growth of digital healthcare tools, security should be at the top of your mind right now.

This guide will help you better understand exactly what the threats are to your patients’ data and, more importantly, what steps you can take today that will reduce your practice’s risk of a ransomware attack.

Of all the different types of cyberattacks, ransomware is by far the most dangerous for the healthcare industry as it locks users out of their own data collection systems and halts any activity that requires access to patient data and protected health information (PHI). This type of data breach can have devastating effects on medical institutions by taking healthcare systems, sensitive patient data, and medical devices hostage until healthcare providers pay a ransom to regain access.

Evidence suggests cyberattackers and ransomware gangs are taking advantage of the increased vulnerability of healthcare institutions caused by the strain of COVID-19 on their healthcare systems.

According to data from cybersecurity firm Bitdefender, the rate of cyberattacks on hospitals increased by 60% between February and March of 2020. Recorded Future, another cybersecurity company, looked at open source reporting numbers to verify that 26 healthcare providers were hit with ransomware attacks between January and May of 2020.

While it’s difficult to prove a direct link between the pandemic and the increased rate of cyberattacks, Recorded Future senior security architect Allan Liska believes “many of these attacks were initiated through coronavirus-themed phishing attacks.”

Liska also called out changes to medical staff and security support due to COVID-19 as a factor for the increasing risk, including employees transitioning to remote work and layoffs.

Topic Discussed: How To Protect Your Healthcare Practice from Ransomware Attacks

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