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Practical Strategies for Healthcare Organizations to Combat Ransomware

by Jackie Davis

Ransomware attacks are hitting the healthcare industry in full force becoming increasingly frequent. Clicking on the wrong link or downloading questionable content can be costly. Ransom demands often range from a few hundred dollars to upwards of ten of thousands to unencrypt the data. With healthcare data being so valuable and timely, sometimes the ransoms have to be paid.

Ransomware stops healthcare providers from being able to effectively do their job and care for patients. Charts, records, and prescriptions are lost to an unknown captor only to be released with a lump sum of cash. Maureen Gray, COO of Blue Ridge Networks, a Virginia-based cybersecurity firm identified the essential conundrum that ransomware attacks create for healthcare organizations.

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“First, it encourages the hackers to continue trying to extort money from you and other victims. Second, there’s no guarantee you’ll get your data back, your systems are still compromised, and realistically, you’ll still have weeks or months of cleanup to do,” explained Gray.

Even though backing up data is a time-consuming task, it can save money and stress if an attack occurs. Organizations should consider a breach prevention system that mitigates risk and is self-reliant. Gray suggests endpoint security could be a valuable tool to deal with attacks.

“By implementing a breach prevention tool that stops breaches before a compromise occurs, without the need for scanning or detection, you can render malicious code harmless early and actively prevent it from executing and doing any damage to the enterprise network,” said Gray.

Risk is increased by mobile device usage such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops that can be found throughout most healthcare workplaces. These devices come in and out of the networks opening opportunities for malicious code to creep in. Gray suggests examining your network for obvious vulnerabilities like weak passwords and outdated software to minimize risk and to also implement tools that prevent phishing attacks and drive-by-downloads.

 

Learn more about how to mitigate the threat of ransomware against critical healthcare systems here.

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