Alarming Ransomware Trends and the Major Hospital System that was Hit

Category: Data Security , Cyberbytes
Author: Mandy Remke

Ransomware attacks – cyber-attacks where cyber criminals “kidnap” your data and system for a ransom – are becoming the most popular form of attack on computer systems of businesses in every sector. The top targets of ransomware attacks are the health, financial, and government industries. Any cyber breach can shut down a business for hours, but modern day ransomware attacks can shut down a business for days and recovery can take weeks to even months to fully recover from all damage that occurs along with a successful ransomware attack. It is more than just data and systems- its time, money, important information, and could even cost you your company’s reputation.

Cyber criminals are taking advantage of vulnerabilities due to the pandemic to launch an increasing and concerning number of cyber-attacks, specifically, ransomware. The COVID-19 pandemic is being used by cyber criminals as a gimmick to launch ransomware attacks. The confusion of the pandemic as well as increased use of open Wi-fi networks and remote working make targeting attacks easier for hackers.

Artic Wolf’s 2020 Security Operation Annual Report published four alarming statistics on rising ransomware between the months of March 2020 and June 2020.

  1. Ransomware and phishing attempts increased 64%
  2. Banks saw a 520% increase in ransomware and phishing attempts
  3. The number of connections to open Wi-Fi networks rose 243%
  4. Number of usernames and passwords exposed on dark web went up 429%

Ransomware attacks are more common and more profitable to cyber criminals than ever before. In a typical ransomware attack, the hacker would simply lock up data. Ransomware attacks today are becoming more two-fold, also including a breach of the locked up or “kidnapped” data and selling information and data to the dark web, The ransoms, which are usually demanded to be paid in bitcoin, are also increasing.

Banks and financial institutions have been a large focus of ransomware attacks, with their customers being targets as well. The Treasury Department even recently gave a warning to financial institutions not to pay ransoms involved with ransomware attacks. While banks and credit unions are vulnerable to cyber-attacks, so are hospitals and health institutions.

Universal Health Services, serving over 400 locations that are primarily located in the United States was hit by a ransomware attack on September 28, 2020 potentially equaling the largest cyber-attack in U.S. history. The computer systems of Universal Health Services failed, and the company posted a statement to their network that said, “currently offline, due to an IT security issue.” Nurses in multiple Universal Health Services locations reported using pen and paper instead of their devices because of the ransomware attack. More about this ransomware attack can be read here.

The speculated first known death by ransomware happened in early September in a German hospital hit with a ransomware attack causing a patient to be transported to another hospital, truly revealing the ever-extensive harm ransomware causes outside of the data itself that is lost.

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It is important for businesses to protect themselves from ransomware no matter what size, industry, or location they are in. Like COVID-19, no one is immune to ransomware. It is important to be prepared to take on cyber-criminals that are always one step ahead and have proper cyber security policies and protocols in place. ThreatAdvice by NXTsoft is a world-class cybersecurity platform that can help you do just that with efficient, comprehensive data security solutions for your business.

October 8, 2020
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