Ransomware in Healthcare - Impact & How Threats can be Defeated

Ransomware in Healthcare

What is Ransomware?

Ransomware is malware that gets installed on your files and encrypts them. You are then unable to access them, making it difficult for you to do your work. Users are required to pay a fee to get encryption keys and make the files useful for them again. If the victim doesn't pay the ransom demand in a given target time, they will lose their data.

Ransom demands are generally made in the form of cryptocurrency, making it difficult to trace the criminal who is demanding the payment. This makes it easy for the criminal to get away with it.

Data is important for all industries. The criticality of data can be judged by the consumer of it. A personal photo means it's probably the most critical digital asset for them. Financial records, customer information, and customer service consumption patterns are a few of the key things helping everyone deliver better customer service.

The increase in dependency on online applications makes it more critical for specific industries, like healthcare, to have a strong cyber security strategy. Data is generated and stored only online, unlike industries like manufacturing, where they still keep some data in the form of delivery challans or invoices from the Exit gates.

Impact of Ransomware in Healthcare?

Ransomware can quickly move around the environment and infect medical equipment, posing a threat to patients' health records. Healthcare professionals rely heavily on each piece of equipment while handling a patient and in normal operations, and they usually have a screen in front of them. In a critical care unit, you would see loads of equipment monitoring basic health parameters. If a piece of equipment stops functioning, it can be a serious delay for the patient. Loss of data due to cyber-threats is the last thing a patient wants to see when the Doctor is trying to save his life.

Why is healthcare a good ransomware customer?

1. Lucrative

For a healthcare organization, digital data is the lifeline. Not only for the company's own business to survive but also for his patients to survive. They cannot imagine losing data and waiting for a long to get data back to cure their patients. Attackers find this to be critical and want to threaten them more than any other industry.

2. Huge Opportunity

The volume of data is huge in healthcare. Compliance needs them to retain data for long. This is true for many industries, but it becomes important for healthcare professionals to study old patient records in order to be able to treat patients better next time. A patient's history and adherence to a treatment line are important for critical patients with reduced immunity and antibiotic resistance. For example, knowing which antibiotic would help better becomes critical for acute diseases.

3. Stakes are high

Healthcare providers can't afford to lose or delay access to their patient data. A cancer research organization, for example, needs to have all the historic information of the patient for patient care and also for the research teams for their research work to find a better way to cure. They need to minimize any risks that hamper data security or cause delays.

4. Not much of a choice

Hospitals and Clinicians cannot recreate reports every now and then as these are not MS Office data reports. These are real-time patient records stored in the equipment and attached storage. The human body’s organs change conditions quickly, especially during illness and Doctors have to react fast. They cannot rely on their memory so facts and data is very important to them.

5. Easy customer for healthcare data

Healthcare data is very important for various allied industries, both good and bad. Criminals involved in drug trafficking and money laundering utilize these medical records to obtain prescription medications, bogus medical claims, or acquire them for informing open credit cards and fraudulent loans.

Also Read: Ransomware trends for 2023

How Ransomware threats can be defeated in Healthcare?

  1. Have secure logins
    Use safe & secure login mechanisms. Password policy should be very stringent so that users cannot rely on standard and easy to remember passwords. Use Multi-Factor authentication mechanisms for all applications including email applications. Most of them offer software-based MFA so there is not too much investment to make here.

  2. Build a strong Cyber Security policy
    A malicious attack on your network can be devastating. To avoid this, you can deploy multiple security solutions. One thing you can do is deploy a firewall solution that blocks all traffic by default, then opens specific ports for the services that need to communicate on the outside of your network. You also have to be careful about which ports are open to outside connections because hackers often send packets over an open port instead.

  3. Have a strong emphasis on email security
    A lot of threads come in through email. Emails offering lucrative deals are dangerous. Enterprises should deploy email filtering solutions, ensuring such emails get blocked on the server. Businesses should protect themselves against such emails by filtering them out on the server. These solutions can analyze the content of the email and block any spam or malicious emails.

  4. Educate your staff to reduce the risk of social engineering
    Continuous training and learning should be planned for the entire staff. Users should be regularly updated about the latest trends and spread mechanisms. No user should be opening any unknown emails and attachments. Social media applications & all other applications not useful for official work should be blocked from access on the Enterprise network.

  5. Develop a cyber security roadmap
    Security is the one thing that cannot be compromised. It should be a key component of your roadmap. When it comes to security, you need to have a clear idea of what is being used and how it's being productive. Furthermore, you need to know how quickly upgrades are being implemented.

 

Stay safe by taking data backups. Keep your backups away from your production network, ex. backup to the cloud or move backups to an alternate Data Center. Try and maintain a data backup replication site as well. Backup applications support scan checks on data being backed up & restored so deploy the best solution for your requirement.

Check your backup and recovery processes regularly to be sure that there is no time lost when recovery is required. Also Read: How data backup in healthcare can make or break your response to rnsomware

Contact us to help build a robust data backup strategy so that you can recover quickly Healthcare data quickly in event of data loss from ransomware.

Also Read: Best Practices for Healthcare Data Backup & Recovery

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