Coronavirus Ransomware Attacks on Healthcare

If the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic that crippled the globe in 2020 taught us anything, it’s vulnerability. On a physical level, human fragility was never more evident as people of all ages, races and locations succumbed to the debilitating, sadly sometimes fatal disease that shook the human constitution to its core. 

The deadly virus also forced us to find new ways to run or conduct our business. Workers were sequestered at home and tele-commuting on a heretofore unforeseen level. And while even the most robust in-house IT support solution works hard to stay hack and attack free within the firewalls of a structured office environment, porting those skills and solutions to a remote network of workers became an extra added necessity. 

As an IT support company in the greater Los Angeles area, Be Structured found itself teaching old dogs new tricks when it came to shoring up vulnerability and preventing cyberattacks when it seemed the hackers had the upper hand. 

During the time of Corona, no industry was more in the spotlight than our heroic healthcare workers. Doctors and nurses and medical examiners in every city of the world put their lives on the line to help the sick and dying. 

Many of those same health care professionals themselves succumbed to the virus showing their own vulnerability. In spreading themselves so thin, it’s a tragic human condition that cyberattackers would pounce and take advantage of precisely that industry that was already threaded so thinly.

Coronavirus is obviously on everyone’s minds these days. The entire country is rallying behind those in the healthcare industry to fight the natural progression of the outbreak curve to relieve the burden this epidemic puts on their staff, supplies and available beds. As many of us are practicing social distancing and isolating ourselves from the rest of society to slow the spread of the virus, our eyes and ears are only tuned into the news of updates and statistics that would give us hope as to when all of this will end. Beyond those daily reports lurks another tragedy the Healthcare Industry is facing: Coronavirus Cyberattacks.

What Does Coronavirus Have to Do with A Healthcare Cyberattacks?

Cyberattacks are being launched on our technology every day. As mentioned in a previous blog regarding Coronavirus phishing email scams, hackers often ride on the waves of trending topics, and there are millions – if not billions of emails being sent about Covid-19 every single day. It’s easy to slip a malicious email into the mix while people are distracted by the constant state of panic.  

A heightened level of stress often means you are unable to think clearly and logically in certain areas of our lives – especially those who are under the enormous weight of responsibility like those serving in the healthcare industry. Not practicing the standard IT support protocols of recognizing malicious emails gets put on the back burner when so many lives are at stake.

The result of these distractions, demands and stress levels create a massive vulnerability. This is a weakness that isn’t reported on the news or even known to the patients coming in who have tested positive for Covid-19. Cyberattackers know that it is far easier to launch an assault in an email if inboxes are being flooded with the same theme of email. 

Hiding malware, spyware or even ransomware in what seems to be a legitimate email about the ever-changing Coronavirus protocol and updates is an evil manipulation. Opening these emails could cripple the hospital, private practice, drug company or anyone else in the healthcare industry.

Why Is The Healthcare Industry Such a Prime Target For A Security Breach During The Coronavirus Epidemic?

Obviously the vulnerability in the healthcare industry plays a huge part in this – but the REAL reason hospitals, drug manufacturers, urgent care centers, and so many others are a prime target is because of all of the Personal Identifying Information they store in their networks. And large cities like Los Angeles sees IT support services strapped even harder with trying to protect the grids.

Not only that, but financial information can also be stored from billing and payment transactions. It doesn’t take much for a cybercriminal to start mining, manipulating and extorting the information they find in a security breach. A hospital is a goldmine of information and the potential payouts could be thousands if not millions on the Dark Web.

How Is Health Information Technology Different Than Everyday IT

Whereas any successful and evolving business relies on IT to make the engine run, the Health Information Technology (HIT) can literally make the difference between life and death.

Vital electronic data and records are patient-specific and need to be accessed in an instant when a desperate person needs immediate attention.

It’s from these patient files that doctors will make critical decisions regarding diagnostic and treatment options based on the patient’s medical history, allergies and potential pitfalls.

In addition, and especially during a pandemic where simply going to the doctor isn’t as easy or accessible, the use of telcare applications to ease communication between healthcare providers and patients needs to be fully functional and fast 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

There is no downtime for a network when a person’s health – and maybe even life – is on the line. There are also functional apps that can monitor a patient’s vital signs remotely. That app can never fail and is just one of many reasons why many Los Angeles-based IT support companies recommend an outsourced solution to enhance the HIT department on the physical premises.

Coronavirus Ransomware is Trending Among Healthcare Industries

Aside from phishing and mining attacks for information, ransomware attacks have been launched in the past several months to hold the hospital’s information technology systems hostage. 

Imagine being in the middle of the ER on any “normal” night and the chaos that would ensue if hospital staff didn’t have access to the computers that keep their communication and business organization fully functioning. Now imagine exponential ER drama in the midst of this coronavirus pandemic. It would not only cripple the hospital of the vitality of their technology and communication infrastructure but can also cause enough delays to put patient’s lives at risk!

The Cybercriminal knows that a hospital or anyone in the healthcare industry is more likely to pay the ransom while they are in crisis mode. They need to get fully functional to keep saving lives, and in some cases, only have a matter of minutes to do it. The coronavirus pandemic that has swept the globe is creating a tidal wave of opportunity for evil to thrive in places most of us never think about.

Additional IT Support Is Needed For Healthcare To Thrive During The Coronavirus Crisis

Many hospitals and healthcare-related businesses have their own internal IT departments to handle the daily ticket requests for printers not working, email issues, software updates, and safeguarding digital assets during the company’s offboarding and onboarding processes. These departments usually have as many as six people managing an entire organization’s needs just to keep their technology running daily.

Now more than ever. hospitals and medical facilities need outsourced IT support in Los Angeles and cities around the world. This past month there were reports of hospitals and healthcare organizations around the world that have faced attacks – even before the coronavirus was named a worldwide pandemic. 

As previously mentioned – the vulnerabilities are magnified in times of crisis so it’s important that extensive security procedures are being practiced in your organization BEFORE a crisis hits.

Outsourcing IT Support During The Coronavirus Eases the Strain on the Healthcare Industry and Lowers Cyberattack Risk

The thought of having a hospital’s IT department also manage the ever-changing cyber threats that get launched daily will not only contribute to poor digital hygiene – it’s a digital disaster! Learning the ever-changing ways and means of new cyber threats is a full-time, ongoing defense strategy. 

The hospital’s security guard is there to prevent attacks that are visible. But you wouldn’t want that security guard to prevent attacks and perform surgery. Nor would you want the surgeons to leave the operating room to make sure the foyer is clear of threats or danger. 

In the same spirit, a hospital’s IT department already works full time to keep the network up and running and virus-free. But to also be on alert for potential, hidden attacks can be overwhelming to an already taxed department. 

That’s why Be Structured, a Los Angeles-based IT consulting company, provides that extra layer of cyber security while bringing over a decade’s worth of network consulting to bolster a medical facility’s protection and security. In an industry that heavily leverages insurance to provide service, an outsourced IT solution is just that: an extra layer of cyber insurance against current – and future forces of nature that today we can’t even foretell.

Does Your Healthcare Company Have Excellent Digital Hygiene?

If your hospital or medical facility is in Southern California, it’s optimal in this day and age to outsource a portion of these security responsibilities to an experienced Los Angeles Managed Service Provider who can monitor these viruses and ‘cleanse’ any infected technology. Outsourcing a portion of their IT Support also diversifies their risk of having a data breach happen from an internal source.

Not one IT Support personnel has the ability to work around the clock. For every patient that comes through the doors of an emergency room- there is literally a team supporting that person’s health and wellbeing. Does your IT Department have the ability to call in for ‘back up’ when things get digitally messy? 

These behind the scenes employees are faced with an onslaught of challenges and issues – especially in times where the coronavirus is changing the landscape of the healthcare industry every hour it runs without a cure.

Establishing a cloud computing based backup support network is not only advantageous, but a necessity in times of crisis. The last thing your staff, surgeons and, especially, patients should be concerned with is whether the system is running and secure. 

Get Your Initial Digital Check-Up With a Dark Web Scan

If you are looking to outsource a portion of your IT department to diversify the security and relieve some of their growing pain points- we would love to partner with you. A great way to take the first step is to see if any information from your organization is lurking on the Deep Web. This would be a real-life indicator that your security has been breached and likely to face more attacks. Please contact us and ask for your complimentary, no obligation Dark Web scan today.