Ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations increased by 94% in 2021 globally – Sophos

Healthcare organizations most often pay ransoms in order to quickly open systems and keep vital patient data accessible

MANILA, Philippines – British cybersecurity firm Sophos reported on Monday June 6 that ransomware attacks against healthcare organizations increased by 94% between 2020 and 2021, with 34% of organizations surveyed reporting an attack in 2020 and 66% reporting the same in 2020. 2021.

Healthcare organizations and hospitals are known to be prime targets for ransomware attackers due to the sensitivity of the data involved and the urgency patients need to regain access to their data in order to receive healthcare services. necessary health.

In 2017, one of the biggest ransomware attacks, known as “WannaCry”, hijacked the UK’s National Health Service, causing major disruption to patient care. This trend has only grown, according to Sophos’ survey conducted in January and February 2022 among 5,600 IT professionals in midsize companies, including 381 healthcare respondents, in 31 countries.

Sophos said the increase in attacks demonstrated that threats have become “more capable of executing the most significant attacks at scale”, which could in part be attributed to the rise and “increasing success” of the ransomware-as-a-service model.

Ransomware-as-a-service allows threat actors to pay those with ransomware expertise and tools to carry out an attack.

The company also noted, “Healthcare saw the highest increase in cyberattack volume (69%) as well as cyberattack complexity (67%) compared to the cross-industry average of 57% and 59% respectively. »

Healthcare organizations also had the second-highest average cost to recover or fix ransomware, at $1.85 million, taking an average week to recover from an attack. Those who pay the ransom instead pay $197,000 on average, which is below the cross-industry average of $812,000. Healthcare organizations most often pay the 61% ransom because, as Sophos noted, remediation costs are often much higher than just paying the ransom.

“The data mined by healthcare organizations is extremely sensitive and valuable, which makes it very attractive to hackers. Additionally, the need for effective and pervasive access to this kind of data – so healthcare professionals can provide appropriate care – means that typical two-factor authentication and zero-trust defense tactics are not always achievable.

This makes healthcare organizations particularly vulnerable and, when affected, may choose to pay a ransom to keep relevant, often life-saving, patient data accessible. Due to these unique factors, healthcare organizations must extend their anti-ransomware defenses by combining security technology with human-directed threat hunting to defend against today’s advanced cyberattackers,” said John Shier, senior security expert at Sophos. – Rappler.com

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