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Healthcare Cyberattack Problems Continue to Spread

— June 4, 2024

System vulnerabilities continue to be evident in large hospital systems, leaving patients’ private information potentially up for grabs.

With the world operating today on a primarily digital basis, everyone has simply come to rely on the technologies we have available to always work as they should. Unfortunately, there are plenty of bad actors out there in the world who commit crimes and cause disruption, and that problem has been seen particularly significantly in the healthcare world as of late. A series of cyberattack problems has shaken the healthcare system and left many people wondering about the stability of the networks that are trusted to deliver and track information about millions of patients. More and more of these attacks continue to take place and they are leaving a serious toll in their wake.

Two of the most recent cyberattack problems involving healthcare facilities in the United States targeted Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago and Ascension, which is a large hospital system. As has been the case with many of these recent attacks, the recovery process was far from speedy.

In the case of Lurie, it was over a month before the entire system was back up and running. The situation has been even worse for Ascension, which has still not been able to recover completely at the time of this writing. The hospital system has still been able to serve patients but has not been able to use the standard MyChart patient portals. It’s hard to quantify exactly the impact that this situation has had on the care that patients receive, but it’s hard to imagine that no impact has been felt – with providers having to scramble to get the information they need and work with the limitations of the system, some effect has to have resulted.

Healthcare Cyberattack Problems Continue to Spread
Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

It’s hard to truly understand the scope of the cyberattack wave that has been hitting healthcare service providers. It is estimated that in 2023 there were more than 700 attacks of varying severity. This continues a trend that has seen such attacks continue to grow and grow in recent years, making it hard for hospitals, clinics, and other facilities to deliver the care that so many people rely on.

It seems that hospitals are a popular target because of the massive volumes of data that they possess. There is personal information for countless patients held within the systems, including billing information in many cases. Between the additional work for the staff and the potential safety issues for the patients, these are serious matters that can wind up leading to legal action.

To be sure, there is no turning back from the digital revolution in healthcare. The days of keeping charts on paper are long gone, and digital records have far too many advantages to give up on now. With that said, there obviously remain many vulnerabilities in the system that need to be addressed if stability and security are to be improved in any notable way. Until big strides are made in security, it seems likely that these large-scale attacks are going to continue to disrupt the healthcare world.


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