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Healthcare System Cyberattacks are a Growing Problem Nationwide

— December 14, 2023

Ransomware attacks are hitting large hospital systems across the U.S.

Like everything else in the modern world, the health care system now relies entirely on digital networks to operate properly. And, in most ways, that’s a great thing – digital records are easier to access and far more reliable, and doctors and other workers can get the information they need in just a matter of moments. However, if a facility comes under cyberattack, everything can be brought to a halt and lives can be in jeopardy as a result. And unfortunately, these attacks seem to be a growing problem across the U.S.

There was recently a cyberattack committed on Hillcrest Medical Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma that highlighted just how concerning and troublesome this type of activity can be. This attack was perpetrated on Thanksgiving Day, and Hillcrest was far from the only location impacted – in total, there were more than 200 facilities across six different states that felt the impact.

The very real impact of this growing problem is that patients aren’t able to get the care they were expecting to receive in a timely manner. Many had to reschedule important services that they expected to receive that day, negatively impacting their health to at least some degree. In the process of responding to the attack, the parent company of these facilities was forced to take the entire computer network offline for a period of time until it could be secured.

Healthcare System Cyberattacks are a Growing Problem Nationwide
Photo by Mati Mango from Pexels

Unfortunately, such high-tech attacks are far from uncommon in the modern world. Hundreds of hospitals have been hit in the same way in just this year alone. Not only are there worries about what can happen to patients during an attack on the hospital system, but so too could there be serious implications if an attack were to successfully target the 911 system. All of these systems are extremely important for human health and the care that people need to stay healthy – or even stay alive – and their stability can rather easily be impacted by hackers with harmful motives.

Simply put, hackers are trying to make money with these kinds of attacks. By taking over the system, hackers can demand a hefty ransom – commonly known as ransomware – to return the network to its previous condition. Given the size and monetary value of hospitals and similar facilities, this can be a rather lucrative “business” for criminals who are able to successfully implement this scheme and get the payout they desire. Given the potential to make a significant amount of money, it doesn’t seem likely that these ransom attacks will be put to rest anytime soon.

In the face of an ongoing, and every-growing threat, it will be important for hospital systems to continue to invest in the technology needed to keep their systems as secure as possible. While no IT department is ever entirely securely – that’s just a reality of computer systems that are networked together – investing plenty of time and money into network security is something that should be expected of all health care systems as part of the cost of doing business and keeping patients as safe as possible.


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