Updated December 16th, 2019 at 21:55 IST

Cybersecurity: Hospital pays ransomware attackers to save the lives of patients

A recent ransomware attack incident in New Jersy highlights the severity of ransomware cyber-attacks that target hospitals and critical medical facilities.

Reported by: Tech Desk
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There has been a rise in the number of cyber-attacks that target government institutions in the United States. A recent ransomware incident in New Jersy highlights the severity of ransomware cyber-attacks that target government critical infrastructures include hospitals and medical facilities.

Hackensack Meridian Health in New Jersey fell prey to a deadly ransomware attack. However, the details of the incident were disclosed a week after the attack.

The Hackensack Meridian Health, which happens to be the largest hospital system in New Jersy, decided to pay attackers' ransom demands to regain control over its system and avoid putting the lives of patients to risk by delaying care and treatment.

Hackensack Meridian Health did not say in its statement how much it paid to regain control over its systems but said it holds insurance coverage for such emergencies. The attack forced hospitals to reschedule nonemergency surgeries and doctors and nurses to deliver care without access to electronic records.

It said that its network’s primary clinical systems had returned to being operational, and that information technology specialists were working to bring all of its applications back online. Hackensack Meridian said it had no indication that any patient information was subject to unauthorized access or disclosure.

READ | Cyberattacks on hospitals could be deadly for heart patients: Study

It quickly notified the FBI and other authorities and spoke with cybersecurity and forensic experts, it said. Hackensack Meridian operates 17 acute care and speciality hospitals, nursing homes, outpatient centres, and the psychiatric facility Carrier Clinic.

Hospitals need to step up their cybersecurity approach and defend themselves against cyberattacks for the safety of their patients. A new study finds a direct link between the lack of cybersecurity measures at hospitals resulting in data breaches and ransomware incidents and an increase in the number of heart patients losing their lives.

A new research warns hospitals facing data breaches or ransomware attacks can expect a sudden spike in the number of heart patients dying as the result of cybersecurity threat remediation.

The rate at which cyber-attacks are spreading is at an all-time high. In 2020, these attacks and solutions to prevent those attacks are going to get even more sophisticated, researchers warn in the recent study.

(With agency inputs)


Published December 16th, 2019 at 19:00 IST

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