Over the years, we’ve heard stories of all kinds of businesses being attacked in terms of digital systems. Malware, phishing, and ransomware are factors in the IT world, unfortunately.

In much more recent times, however, we’ve had to deal with cybercriminals taking over the data from hospitals and healthcare centers and demanding money in return. This morally reprehensible act should seemingly not even exist as we’d all assume that it just shouldn’t happen. It does, though, and it’s becoming increasingly regular.

Hospitals all over the country—and all over the world—are having to deal with this more frequently than ever. It could be a petty criminal looking to take a few hundred dollars, or it could be a mastermind hoping to steal upwards of ten million. While they’re both just as awful, you can’t ignore the significance and the horror of the latter.

Many patients have had to be transferred due to the loss of data, and one patient even lost their life due to particular methods and medicines not being listed anymore. We’re going to discuss just how important security in hospitals is and what can be done to combat ransomware, but first, let’s go into a little more detail about the issue itself.

What Is Ransomware Exactly?

Ransomware is a type of malware that encrypts a victim’s files. The ransom is demanded after victims are shown a list of instructions. Once the ransom has been paid, reportedly they’ll receive a decryption key that unlocks everything and gives it all back to them.

Hackers often use Bitcoin as a payment method. Hospitals are a lot more vulnerable than most kinds of organizations and establishments (we’ll get into this a little later) and have been under a lot more fire since the start of the global pandemic—for obvious reasons.

How Does It Work?

Hackers can get into a system through multiple channels. One of the most popular ways is through email. Files are sent under the guise of a contact or firm that looks legitimate, and once the file is downloaded and opened, they take over the system pretty much entirely. Other traps are set, such as masquerading as law enforcement in order to stop attempts from being reported to the actual police.

Once the malware has taken over, there’s likely a type of encryption that takes over all of the victim’s files. The files can then only be decrypted using the key held by the hacker.

Why Is the Healthcare Industry Targeted?

Hospitals and healthcare centers are targeted especially by hackers at this juncture because it’s common knowledge that they’re currently weak defensively in terms of cyber-attacks. The vulnerability only makes criminals’ choices a lot narrower. If they feel as though they can get an easy job done due to the lack of security, then they’ll exploit the weaknesses currently situated there. If they choose to launch ransomware at a hospital such as those in Missouri, there will be no choice but to pay the ransom at this stage.

What Measures Need to Take Place?

It’s easy to simply hold off and not pay the fees, but with the lack of security already, hospitals have a little-to-no choice in the matter. Being stubborn won’t work too well when they’re thrust into such a position. There does need to be an array of preventive measures in order to stay safe.

Thankfully, there are plenty of options for hospitals looking to deal with this type of crime. First, and this should almost go without saying at this point, important information must be routinely and securely backed up.

There is sensitive information that hospitals need access to which inhibits their ability to service their patients when vital health information is held ransom. Protecting patient information is such an important part of a hospital’s, and healthcare center’s fundamentals.

Devices must be kept up-to-date; delaying updates could lead to issues as particular bugs may not have been fixed, or certain weak spots may be found in older versions of particular drives, and software.

Hospitals must also comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. There are many facets to this, but an important aspect is that every member of staff should complete security training.

This kind of training will cover all areas, including cybersecurity for SMBs. It is also highly recommended to be proactive, and to implement preventive measures, such as 24/7 monitoring from an MSP. With that kind of partnership and help, you’ll be able to detect issues far before they escalate.