October 15, 2020

Category: Cybersecurity


  • Ransomware attacks doubled during last three months across U.S.
  • Health care accounted for 16 percent of attacks during Q3
  • Top strains of ransomware are Ryuk and Maze

Ransomware attacks increased dramatically in the United States during the second half of the year, with the health care industry as the leading target, according to a new report.

Cybersecurity firm Check Point conducted a survey and found that ransomware attacks increased 50 percent on a daily average around the world and doubled during the last three months across the country compared to the first half of 2020.

Ransomware is described as a type of malicious software that prevents the victims from accessing their documents, databases, pictures and other digital files by encrypting them and demanding a ransom to regain access to the files. Often times, a deadline is set for the ransom payment. If the deadline passes, the files become permanently locked or the demanded payment could double.

The top strains of ransomware are Ryuk and Maze. Ryuk now attacks approximately 20 organizations a week.

What is most concerning is the increase in ransomware attacks specifically aimed at the health care industry.

Industries experiencing ransomware attacks in the U.S. During Q3:

  • Health care: 16 percent
  • Manufacturing: 12 percent
  • Software vendor: 10 percent
  • Government/Military: 9 percent
  • Insurance/Legal: 7 percent

The United States also topped the list of countries experiencing the most overall ransomware attacks during the past three months, according to Check Point:

  • United States: 98% increase, 313 attacks in Q3, 158 attacks in Q2
  • India: 39.2% increase, 312 attacks in Q3, 224 attacks in Q2
  • Sri Lanka: 436% increase, 134 attacks in Q3, 25 attacks in Q2
  • Russia: 57.9% increase, 120 attacks in Q3, 76 attacks in Q2
  • Turkey: 32.5% increase, 106 attacks in Q3, 80 attacks in Q2

The increase in ransomware attacks aimed at health care organizations is a concern for a variety of reasons—including delay in patient care or theft of patient data—the latter of which is what makes ransomware attacks in health care so profitable. Hospitals and health care organizations are tasked with gathering a plethora of personal details on their patients, including credit card information, social security numbers, home address, and more. On the black market, a single patient health record could sell for around $1,000.

All of the personal data within a medical record makes large scale attacks worth millions.

The information within a patient’s medical record also puts people at-risk for identity theft. With the massive influx of new patients at hospitals and other health care organizations due in part to effects from the COVID-19 pandemic, hackers know that a hospital will be more likely to pay the ransom to keep their operations running, according to Check Point.

Unfortunately, the fallout of a ransomware attack on a health care organization does not end with financial repercussions and sensitivity of data included in a patient’s medical record.

Earlier in September, a ransomware attack at Düsseldorf University Hospital in Germany resulted in the death of a patient. A woman had been scheduled for life-saving treatment but was diverted to another hospital after hackers disabled the computer systems at Düsseldorf University Hospital. The patient died during the attempted transfer, according to the BBC.

More recently, Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services (UHS) which is one of the largest hospital chains in the United States, had to shut down its computer systems after a “cyberattack” which occurred at the end of September. Fortunately, patient care was not affected, according to a statement released by UHS which read in part:

The company experienced a cyberattack caused by malware early Sunday morning, September 27, 2020, at which time UHS IT disconnected all systems and shut down the Network to prevent further propagation. While the Network was offline, patient care was delivered safely and effectively at our facilities across the country using established back-up processes, including offline documentation methods. Throughout the IT remediation work we have had no indication that any patient or employee data was accessed, copied or misused.

This most recent attack at such a large hospital chain in the United States goes to show how crucial it is for health care organizations to have proper data security as well as breach insurance for worst-case scenarios.

Ways to Mitigate a Health Care Cyberattack

First and foremost, health care organizations need to ensure that they have some of the best digital security in place . This is vital to safeguard the personal health information (PHI) of patients, computer networks used by health care providers for care team communication and storage of medical documents including their own medical licenses and credentials, and any other vulnerable data which could be targeted by a hacker.

As is evident by some of the recent ransomware, malware, and cybersecurity attacks on notable health care systems and large hospitals, some of the current security measures in place at health care systems are either outdated and/or inadequate.

What Intiva Health Offers:

Ready Doc™, developed by Intiva Health, allows for the fastest placement and ongoing credentialing of physicians, nurses, and other licensed medical professionals. The innovative platform reduces the time it takes to verify and onboard new medical practitioners at facilities, ensuring quicker access to services for patients.

A large part of this is made possible by the technology Ready Doc™ uses, Hashgraph Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT), which is an alternative to blockchain. It is a distributed consensus mechanism utilizing a decentralized platform without servers.

It enables more than 250,000 transactions per second, offers mathematically proven fairness, and provides Asynchronous Byzantine Fault Tolerance (ABFT) for maximum security. In blockchain, the proof of work consensus is designed to slow down the addition of blocks to the chain to reduce forking in the chain. Unlike this inefficient mechanism, DLT uses a virtual voting consensus algorithm. This “gossip protocol” enables ABFT, the strongest security possible, as well as fairness and speed.

Hashgraph utilizes the directed acyclic graph for storing and accessing information. Since every container of transactions is incorporated into the ledger, none are discarded, which makes DLT more efficient than blockchains.

All the branches never cease to exist and are woven together into a single whole. In the end, this creates a digital notarization that can never be destroyed, thus creating an indisputable verification of documents in your Ready Doc™ safe.

To learn more about how your facility can be ready with Ready Doc™ and secure your medical documents, schedule a FREE demo online today or call 844-413-2602.

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