Ransomware: 88 percent of U.S. attacks hit healthcare entities

Cybercriminals are nailing healthcare with the insidious form of malware, with CryptoWall being the most common type of ransomware detected in the second quarter, a new report finds.
By Bill Siwicki
05:02 PM

During the second quarter of 2016, an overwhelming 88 percent of all ransomware detections throughout U.S. industries – including healthcare, retail, education, finance and technology – occurred at healthcare organizations, according to the Security Engineering Research Team Quarterly Threat Report for Q2 2016 from cybersecurity technology and services vendor NTTSecurity, formerly Solutionary.

The SERT report for Q2 2016, which studied the digital activity of NTTSecurity client organizations, also found that ransomware detections decreased between January and February of this years but picked up again in March, April and May.

That 11 percent spike happened shortly after Hollywood Presbyterian fell prey to a ransomware attack and ultimately had to pay the cybercriminals to get its data back.  

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[Special Report: Tips for protecting hospitals against ransomware as attacks surge]

CryptoWall, which encrypts a user’s files and then demands ransom for a code that allegedly will decrypt the files, was the most commonly detected ransomware of the quarter, being detected in 94 percent of attacks.

While ransomware dates back to 1989, cybercriminals recently have taken a particular interest in the return on investment that ransomware promises and have increased the time, effort and money they invest in developing and distributing both old and new strains of the malware, the SERT report said.

“As healthcare and education sectors continue to be plagued with ransomware and often pay the demanded ransoms, the probability of more targeted attempts in these sectors will increase,” the report said. “Healthcare organizations use an abundance of systems and IoT devices that can become crucial pivot points for an attacker or can even be victims of ransomware themselves.” 

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: bill.siwicki@himssmedia.com

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