The worst possible victim for ransomware nowadays is the healthcare sector. Unfortunately, they’re the most appealing targets of ransomware operators because these organizations cannot afford any downtime brought about by any type of malware. A few seconds of downtime could mean life or death for patients and because of that, they tend to pay up.
Last October, various agencies including the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned healthcare providers of potential cyberattacks.
According to cybersecurity company Check Point, the most common ransomware now in use against healthcare institutions are Ryuk, followed by REvil or Sodinokibi. Considering the current situation, it is the height of insensitivity to target medical institutions. An unfortunate reality, but for perpetrators, it’s an opportunity that’s too good to resist. There are even reports of criminals targeting vaccine producers and testing centers.
As per Check Point, many victims of Ryuk ransomware operators are from Europe, East Asia and Latin America where attacks have grown by up to 150% compared to pre-pandemic times. However, Canada experienced the largest attack rate of 250% last November followed by Spain and Germany. It is indeed the worst possible time for any business especially healthcare to be targeted.
Apart from Ryuk and REvil ransomware, malware attacks include botnets, remote code execution and DDoS attacks on websites. It is therefore up to healthcare organizations to beef up their cybersecurity efforts by keeping systems updated with the latest security patches and security software and hardware solutions. Organizations also need to enhance their network monitoring efforts and blocking sites that are potential malware vectors. But no amount of advanced hardware and software solutions can stop attacks from the inside. Healthcare organizations need to spend some of their much-stretched time in setting up awareness programs for their staff against phishing which is the main vector for ransomware.