Ransomware Attacks Against US Hospitals Increase

A warning by a non-profit healthcare group stated that the hospitals in USA should get ready for more ransomware attacks in the nearest future.

According to a research of 30 mid-sized US hospitals, the Health Information Trust Alliance has revealed that more than half of them were infected by malicious software. The research also showed that 52% of the hospitals were infected by malware.

The CEO of Hitrust Alliance Daniel Nutkis, stated that the most common type of malware was ransomware. The strain of malware was found in 35% of the attacks targeting hospitals.

Hitrust Alliance also expects these attacks to increase in the future because of the tied-in profitability that ransomware guarantees for hackers.

Daniel Nutkis refers to the data which demonstrates that cyber criminals have moved away from breaching servers with patient data to deploying ransomware.

At the same time, stealing data by breaching servers takes much more efforts. Besides, this could require the attacks to stay dormant in the network, undetected for months.

After stealing the data, the hackers would need to find buyers. Cyber criminals could infect entire networks of computers with ransomeware by just using a targeted spam campaign which contains the malicious email attachment alongside the ransomware payload.

If stuff isn’t working, they move on. If stuff is working, they keep doing it,” Nutkis stated.

Organizations which are paying ransoms, have already considered their options, and unfortunately they don’t have other options.

Lately, the cyberattacks have predominantly involved hospitals being targeted by ransomware extortionists.The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles was the target of one such attack about a month ago. In a week or two, the hospital paid a ransom of $17,000 in the virtual currency bitcoin in order to regain the access to its encrypted data.

The initial ransom demand put forth by the attackers sought 9,000 bitcoins, which is approximately $3 million.

Last week, MedStar Health, a non-profit healthcare organization which operates multiple hospitals was at the receiving end of a ransomware attack. According to the report, the hackers have offered MedStar a bulk decryption discount, seeking $19,000 in exchange for regaining access to 15 affected computers. However, the hospital has not paid the ransom yet.

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