A recent ransomware cyberattack on a German hospital is thought to have led to the death of a patient. This is the first known death attributed to a cyberattack, which experts say is surprising, given the increasing number of attacks over the past few years.
Because network systems are critical to health care work, they are prime targets for cybercriminals. Surveys reveal that 75 percent of hospital administrators are willing to pay the ransom to unlock their network. In addition, many insurance providers recommend paying the ransom, as it is still cheaper than the clean-up and recovery process.
Last year, the U.S. saw a record number of health care facilities hit by ransomware, resulting in canceled medical procedures, lost medical records and interrupted emergency services. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic led to a slight drop in attacks the first half of 2020, but attacks have now returned to pre-pandemic rates of attack.
In September, a New Jersey hospital fell victim to an attack in which the cybercriminals published medical records on the Internet. This relatively new risk of leaked data can be found in almost 10 percent of attacks, according to a firm that tracks cyberattacks. It is an unsettling evolution because all health care providers are obligated to keep medical information confidential.
Network security experts hope these recent attacks, and the one resulting death, will awaken hospital IT administrators to the urgent need to prioritize system security. Melissa Eddy and Nicole Periroth "Cyber Attack Suspected in German Woman's Death" www.nytimes.com (Sep. 18, 2020).