Doctors an Easy Mark for Hospital Cyberattackers

November 17, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

Filed under Communication, COVID-19 for Employers, COVID-19 for the Workforce

Last modified November 18, 2020

As healthcare systems cope with a surge in COVID-19 patients, they’re also dealing with an onslaught of ransomware attacks. According to this article from MedPage Today, in late October the FBI and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services issued an alert that hackers using the “Ryuk” ransomware, which took in at least $61 million in the U.S. from 2018 to 2019, were targeting hospitals during the second COVID-19 surge. While healthcare systems have worked to strengthen their defenses against such attacks, cybercriminals are still finding a way to target healthcare workers.

“Both our strongest link and our weakest link are our people,” said Rich Temple, chief information officer of the Deborah Heart and Lung Center in New Jersey, who added that phishing attacks their organization have “kicked up with a vengeance” since April. These kinds of attacks on healthcare systems aren’t new for a simple reason: the potential payout for hackers if they’re able to get inside. Patient files often include information such as Social Security numbers that can be sold for a lot of money on the dark web.

The best line of defense is educating employees, which includes raising awareness about what bad emails look like. Some employers are also running fake phishing campaigns, where they phish their own employees.

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