‘It’s not a good week for healthcare’: Health System IT Execs React to Recent Ransomware Attacks

October 6, 2020 by Christen Aldrich

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

Last modified October 7, 2020

Over the past two weeks, several cyberattacks on hospitals and health systems have forced computer systems offline. According to this article from Becker’s Hospital Review, the largest breach occurred at King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services. This is a 26-hospital health system with hundreds of clinical locations. The health system reported an IT security incident that began on the morning of September 27 and is ongoing.

“There’s been an unfortunate increase in cyberattacks on healthcare organizations, and I don’t anticipate this trend changing anytime soon,” said Jesus Delgado, vice president and CIO of Community Healthcare System in Munster, Indiana.

Cybersecurity has always been pertinent for CIOs and health system IT leaders, but it has become critical after these recent attacks. While some cybercriminal organizations pledged to halt attacks during the pandemic, it appears at least some have resumed hits on hospitals and clinical organizations. Several compounding factors have made healthcare organizations targets at this time; they are likely to pay the ransom to restore systems as quickly as possible and resume patient care. They also hold valuable information about COVID-19 research and vaccines.

“It’s not a good week for healthcare,” said Kathy Hughes, CISO of Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y. “Healthcare is and has been the No. 1 target for cyber crime and the number of attacks on healthcare organizations have been increasing exponentially over the past few years, primarily because of the value of data they can obtain from a successful attack, and the fact that cybercriminals know that if they lock up systems and data, that has a significant impact on operations.”

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