(RightIsRight.co) – Cyberattacks are increasingly causing trouble at hospitals throughout the United States, in many cases even creating “deadly conditions” for vulnerable patients, according to a new urgent report.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought various challenges to the healthcare system, cybercriminals often “capitalize” on the chaos, targeting overwhelmed hospitals and shutting down their networks, Newsmax reported.
Their hacks frequently lead to grim consequences such as crippled emergency services, surgery cancelations, and even a “spike in deaths.”
“Cyberattacks have long been viewed as less lethal than missile strikes, but as cyberstrikes hit hospitals and take lives, the calculus for how to respond could be changing,” the report points out.
According to John Riggi, a cybercrime expert cited by Politico, it’s time “to view these types of attacks, ransomware attacks on hospitals, as threat-to-life crimes, not financial crimes.”
Riggi serves as the American Hospital Association’s national adviser for cybersecurity and risk.
It is noted that some of the most frequent cybercrime strikes on hospitals involve ransomware attacks in which hackers encrypt medical facility networks and then demand ransom to unlock them.
A 2021 study by Proofpoint and the Ponemon Institute, which surveyed 600 healthcare facilities, discovered that a quarter of those experienced higher mortality rates due to ransomware attacks – meaning hospital patients died because hackers tried to extort ransom money.
In one case in the German city of Düsseldorf in 2020, a cyberattack caused a local hospital to shut down its emergency department. As a result, a patient who had to be taken to another hospital in an ambulance died on the way.
In another 2020 case, a woman sued a hospital in Alabama over her baby’s death, which occurred after a cyberattack.
The woman claimed that a cyberattack prevented doctors from conducting necessary pre-birth tests. The baby was then born with the umbilical cord tied around its neck. This caused brain damage, and the child passed away several months later.
Oblivious to their grim consequences, cybercriminals seem to be carrying out a growing number of attacks on hospitals.
“Unfortunately, 2022 appears to be another record year in terms of the volume of attacks against U.S. healthcare and the volume of sensitive patient information which has been either stolen or compromised by these foreign-based cyber adversaries,” Riggi told Politico.
Most of the harm done by cyberattacks on U.S. hospitals affects individuals’ data or businesses’ profits.
However, the federal government has designated 16 categories of “critical infrastructure” in which hacking could disrupt civilian services, including healthcare.
The Biden administration reportedly plans to prioritize hospital cybersecurity next year.
A senior administration official told Politico that could mean new legislation and presidential executive orders to boost healthcare cybersecurity standards.
“Hospitals are a very targeted sector … it’s something we’re significantly concerned about,” the official stated.
Hospitals on the front line of cyberattacks are increasingly strained under the often deadly conditions created by such hacks. https://t.co/zEj1wXQbyx
— NEWSMAX (@NEWSMAX) December 28, 2022