You may have been noticing increasing reports of ransomware attacks on the news. In most cases, attackers are not deterred by the nature of an organization. Extortionists are using ransomware against all sectors, including healthcare, charities, and nonprofits.
Here is why a ransomware attack against a healthcare organization can be devastating:
- Can prevent healthcare delivery
- Can stop emergency services
- Recovery can cost millions of dollars
- A successful ransom attack is sometimes followed by another down the road
What Is Ransomware, Exactly?
Ransomware is a dangerous piece of malicious software that can lock computers and encrypt data. Usually, after a ransomware attack, the malware flashes a warning sign on computer screens demanding money in exchange for a decryption key. Paying the ransom can store access, though there’s no guarantee.
How Can Healthcare Organizations Stop Ransomware?
Combating ransomware requires a holistic approach. Organizations must take multiple steps to fight the threat of ransomware attacks. Let’s look at a few tips:
#1 Use Anti-Ransomware Tools
Proactive antivirus software that guards your endpoints can certainly help. However, it’s a good idea for healthcare teams to invest in anti-ransomware technology that fights ransomware and also rolls back changes from a ransomware attack.
#2 Switch to Cloud-Based Software
Secure software is essential for healthcare organizations nowadays. For example, the Sumac Case Management health and social services tools offer secure data management with PIPEDA and HIPAA compliance. The software also offers cloud-based access. This is essential in case of a disaster such as a major power failure, human error, or ransomware strike. Even if your local servers are down, with cloud-based access, you can remotely control your case management and social service tools from anywhere.
Likewise, teams should consider migrating most resources and data to the cloud for similar benefits.
#3 Social Engineering Defense Training
Hackers use social engineering attacks nowadays to breach network defenses and drop ransomware. Social engineering is a type of attack that manipulates a victim’s emotions to deceive them. For example, an email from a supervisor with a ransomware attachment is a type of social engineering attack. Or a message to an accounting department with a link to a free software update that’s hiding ransomware is also an example.
#4 Network Security
Experienced network security teams should survey healthcare networks and improve security. Open RDP ports are a ransomware threat vector and must be managed. Likewise, next-generation firewalls and VPNs are important tools.
#5 Post-Ransomware Attack Training
Human beings make mistakes. Despite our best training and cybersecurity measures, ransomware attacks can still be successful. That’s why it’s critical to know what to do after a ransomware attack.
- Only pay the ransom as a last resort.
- Disconnect the Internet to prevent threat actors from communicating with ransomware.
- Remove infected computers immediately from the network to prevent ransomware from spreading.
- Contact a cybersecurity team and law enforcement. Some popular strains of ransomware have readily available decryption keys.
Healthcare organizations should also consider investing in advanced data backup technology. Regular backups can help you bounce back from an attack. Additionally, consider using air-gapped systems for periodic backups. Air-gapped systems are safer from ransomware because they’re not connected to any networks.
Although ransomware attacks can be devastating, healthcare organizations can take steps to secure themselves. Investing in anti-ransomware technology and training is an essential first step. Learning how to deal with an attack is also critical. Ultimately, cybersecurity tools, training, and mitigation strategies can help healthcare organizations fight back against ransomware.
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