In the last few years, a large number of hospitals have been caught off guard by crippling cyberattacks. Because hackers are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their methods and healthcare administrators are struggling to keep up with emerging threats, hospitals are even more vulnerable.
“Hospitals are just sitting ducks. They are the golden target,” says Yotam Gutman, marketing manager at SecBi, a company that provides data and research on the global cyber industry.
In some cases, the hospital’s entire IT system has been held for ransom. Earlier this year, Princeton Community Hospital in rural West Virginia was hit by a malware attack from hackers demanding a ransom paid in bitcoin (a virtual currency). The attack paralyzed the hospital’s system, causing administrators to do all reports by hand while it rushed to reboot its entire network.
In other instances, hackers have seized private patient information. According to Gutman, a system at a plastic surgery clinic in the U.K. was once breached by someone who stole the facility’s information.
“If you have a hospital with a lot a wealthy patients, there are a lot of secrets,” Gutman explains.