Healthcare Fighting Back Against Ransomware

The concept of thievery isn't all that complicated. In fact, it's an old and obnoxious tradition that companies and individuals have been battling for centuries. In the modern age, however, theft has evolved into the kind of problem that requires millions of dollars and whole teams of security professionals to combat. Unfortunately, healthcare organizations have been hit hard in the past few years by various cyber data breaches, resulting in millions of records being compromised each year.

The most recent of these threats to healthcare data security comes in the form of "ransomware," a type of malware that can infiltrate computers or networks via email. The bug takes hold of hardware and internal records and keeps them “hostage” until a ransom payment is made. This type of cyberattack has become so persistent for healthcare organizations across the globe, from large to small, that some are starting to get sick of repeated attacks-they're starting to find ways to fight back.

According to some experts, ransomware has increased in popularity because of a flood of stolen healthcare data records into the market. Since 2015 alone, more than 100 million records have been stolen from healthcare organizations in the U.S., including the roughly 79 million records stolen from Anthem, Inc. (reported in February of 2015). Simple supply and demand laws dictate that the more of something available, the less money you'll get for it. In order to refill the coffers, cybercriminals have turned to making quick bucks by preying on unwary consumers and businesses through ransomware.

While it's difficult to trace most of these ransomware attacks back to their original source for prosecution, many are apparently originating from Romania, U.S. criminal charges are unrealistic if not impossible. However, there are other ways to go about discouraging and preventing attacks.

The best way to avoid falling victim to ransomware within your practice or hospital is to be wary, proactive, and prepared. The following actions could save you money and time by keeping your healthcare organization safe from ransomware infiltration:

Ransomware may be a real threat for healthcare data security at the moment, but most bugs of this type can be prevented by caution and smart, proactive thinking. Whether your healthcare organization is small or large, take a moment to assess your current level of security against ransomware and other malware threats, and get ready. If you haven't been hit yet, it may only be a matter of time.

About the Author - Ashley Choate is a native of Jacksonville, FL where she lives with her son, dog, and three cats. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Jacksonville University with a BA in English and holds an MAED in Adult Education and Training. She lives for reading and writing, learning and teaching, and figuring out the day-to-day traumas and joys of mommyhood.

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