Ransomware is making all the headlines so far in 2016. This threat has become so mainstream it has caused both the FBI and US-CERT to issue ransomware alerts, with the healthcare sector being mentioned in both.
On March 31, 2016, the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT) issued a ransomware warning concerning the Locky and Samas ransomware variants – both of which have been used to target hospitals and other healthcare targets.
On April 29, 2016, the FBI wrote a post warning of the rise in ransomware threats, saying that ransomware attacks were prevalent in 2015 and will continue to grow in 2016.
“Ransomware attacks are not only proliferating, they’re becoming more sophisticated,” the FBI post read. “Several years ago, ransomware was normally delivered through spam emails, but because email systems got better at filtering out spam, cyber criminals turned to spear phishing emails targeting specific individuals.”
However, when you look at the biggest data breaches in healthcare, are ransomware attacks really deserving of all the headlines?
Despite Ransomware Trend, Healthcare Most Impacted By Data Loss
SurfWatch Labs has collected data on 141 healthcare cybercrime targets so far in 2016, and the ransomware attacks against Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and Medstar Health have been the top two most discussed industry targets to date.
Both Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and MedStar health made huge headlines this year after being victimized with ransomware. Hollywood Presbyterian paid the ransom demand to get their data back. Medstar Health was able to get their systems operational without paying a ransom.
While infected assets leads the way in terms of chatter around healthcare sector cybercrime effects this year – largely due the high level of ransomware discussion – stolen or leaked personal information and data are leading the way when looking at the total number of distinct healthcare targets being impacted by cybercrime so far this year.
Similarly, while malware dominates the chatter around healthcare sector cybercrime practices, unauthorized access is the top trending practice category in terms of the actual number of affected targets.
While everyone is talking about malware – more specifically, ransomware – affecting healthcare targets, if we dig deeper into that top practice category it’s clear that the old-fashioned, tried-and-true methods used by cybercriminals are causing the most damage in the healthcare sector in 2016.
Criminals Are Still Seeking Healthcare Data
While it is still important for hospitals and healthcare companies to worry about the threat of ransomware, as SurfWatch Labs’ data shows, ransomware attacks are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cyber threats facing the healthcare industry.
Several attack vectors are present in the healthcare industry. Phishing and social engineering attempts are still the primary cybersecurity threat concerning healthcare facilities, with stolen laptops and flash drives also creating a severe issue protecting data.
W-2 data breaches have made several headlines this year, affecting organizations throughout all sectors – including healthcare. Healthcare companies Main Line Health, York Hospital, E Clinical Works, Endologix, Care.com, CareCentrix, and Magnolia Health Corporation all suffered W-2 data breaches in 2016 that stemmed from a simple phishing email.
The verdict is in; ransomware isn’t going anywhere and will continue to trend throughout 2016. However, we can’t forget about the old-fashioned methods used by hackers since the dawn of the Internet when it comes to protecting organizations from cybercrime. Ransomware has become popular due to its ease of execution and potential to make a quick buck, but the valuable data stored throughout the healthcare sector is still the holy grail for cybercriminals looking for a bigger score.