By B.N. Frank
Misery of Ransomware Hits Hospitals the Hardest
Ransomware attacks targeting hospitals have exacted a human cost as well as financial.
Despite hospitals being on the front lines during the pandemic, bad actors have continued to target them with ransomware. In addition to wreaking havoc on operational processes in medical facilities at the worst possible time, the attacks have evolved to threaten patient safety.
In September, employees at Universal Health Services (UHS), a Fortune-500 owner of a nationwide network of hospitals, reported widespread outages that resulted in delayed lab results, a fallback to pen and paper, and patients being diverted to other hospitals. The culprit turned out to be the Ryuk ransomware, which locked up hospital systems for days.
“No patients died tonight in our [emergency room] but I can surely see how this could happen in large centers due to delay in patient care,” a Reddit user identifying themselves as a nurse, wrote at the time.
The concern isn’t overblown. Earlier that month, a ransomware attack at a Dusseldorf University hospital in Germany resulted in emergency-room diversions to other hospitals. According to a report by the Ministry of Justice of the State North Rhine-Westphalia, a patient died who had to be taken to a more distant hospital in Wuppertal because of the attack on the clinic’s servers.
Of course hackers can cause disastrous results no matter who or what is targeted – businesses (see 1, 2), community governments, hospitals, medical devices, personal devices (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6), security systems and other “Smart” home devices (see 1, 2, 3), utility grids (see 1, 2, 3), and/or utility “Smart” Meters. In fact, recently the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued warnings about serious cybersecurity risks with 5G deployment. The White House has issued a directive about the potential for satellites being targeted as well.
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If you’re concerned about cybersecurity and privacy risks from personal and home devices, Mozilla recently issued their annual guide that includes information about specific products.
Activist Post reports regularly about unsafe technology. For more information, visit our archives.
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