Healthcare Attacks on the Rise as the Pandemic Takes Hold

Healthcare Attacks on the Rise as the Pandemic Takes Hold

Richard Staynings
By Richard Staynings, Chief Security Strategist and Cybersecurity Evangelist

There has been an increase in ransomware and other cyber attacks against healthcare as COVID-19 cases rise.

Amid the surge of the pandemic and the ensuing chaos, cybercriminals have taken to implementing a number of cyberattacks against hospitals and healthcare delivery organizations (HDOs). The current Coronavirus crisis provides ample distraction for hackers to find backdoors and ways into medical devices as hospitals, in many parts of the United States and around the world, are distracted by large numbers of infected patients and a workforce that, by and large, is remote outside of clinical care. In the first quarter of 2020, the number of breaches had increased by 273% compared to the previous year, according to CNBC

These attacks are costing healthcare organizations tens of millions of dollars in the U.S. and often in the billions range. However, as urgent patient care surges, an increasing number of victims are choosing to pay in the hope of saving lives. The hospitals simply can't afford the downtime, which makes them more likely to pay and quickly, in order to restore their services.  

The types of attacks cyber experts are seeing include ransomware, a type of cyberattack that freezes a victim's data until it is unlocked after payment, as well as lesser cyber attacks like phishing emails. The confusion around the pandemic and the shifting at-home work life has created an ideal situation for cybercriminals to gain access to devices that are normally harder to gain access to.  

Hear From the Experts

In a recent discussion panel, healthcare security thought leaders and experts discuss this subject at the Washington HIMSS Chapter Meet Up. Join them as they discuss the rising healthcare threats and attacks amid the pandemic surge. 


Presenting at the virtual stage were: 

  • Brian Cady, Head of Security Strategy & Architecture at Providence St. Joseph Health
  • Richard May, Managing Principal at Epic Insurance.
  • Richard Staynings, Chief Security Strategist at Cylera

Moderated by: 

  • Dylan Strecker, President of WA HIMSS and Director of Advisory Solutions at Lumeris 

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