Cyber-Attacks Against the Healthcare Sector Back on the Rise

Written by Bill Toulas
Last updated June 23, 2021

As COVID-19 cases returned to yet another spike, hackers are turning their attention to healthcare organizations once again, following the typical approach of targeting those in the most critical and vulnerable position. According to a 'Check Point' report that touches the subject in-depth, since November 2020, there has been an increase in the number of attacks against healthcare organizations globally of over 45%. These attacks mainly came from the ransomware groups “Ryuk” and “Sodinokibi,” but DDoS attacks, malware infections, and botnet deployment were also present.

The most targeted region in the world is that of Central Europe, followed by East Asia, Latin America, and then Eastern Europe. Canada-based organizations witnessed the worst increase on the country level, with attack rates spiking by a whopping 250%. Germany comes second worldwide with a percentage increase of 220%, and Spain third with 100%.

Source: Check Point

As previously explained, all of the actors who are currently targeting the healthcare sector are financially motivated, so the only thing they care about is getting paid. With hospitals under pressure from increasing COVID-19 cases, threat actors find a first-class opportunity to cash in quickly.

Emergency clinics don’t want to risk their patients’ health, so they don’t have the time margins to negotiate with hackers. Unfortunately, many of these medical centers don’t have a solid cyber-response plan or an adequate security level on their networks, so they are easy targets.

It has been resolved beyond any doubt now that relying on calls to these crooks’ ethics will yield nothing positive. The global pandemic hasn’t ended the concept of money, so hackers are still going after it no matter the consequences of their actions to innocent people. That said, the healthcare sector needs to ramp up its defense game, even if that has to take place parallelly to an already burdening situation that is the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Check Point suggests the following five points of protection which won't make hospitals impenetrable but will still improve their security greatly:

  1. Actively scan for malware and trojan infections periodically.
  2. Stay vigilant during the weekends and holidays, and keep IT teams adequately staffed.
  3. Use anti-ransomware solutions from reputable vendors.
  4. Educate employees on how to deal with potentially malicious and phishing emails.
  5. Patch systems and apply all available software and firmware updates as soon as possible.

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