Several hospitals targeted in new wave of ransomware attacks

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Topic: Several hospitals targeted in new wave of ransomware attacks

Several hospitals across the United States have been targeted in ransomware attacks in what appears to be an escalation and expansion of similar attacks previously launched on other hospitals and medical facilities.

The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a warning advisory Wednesday night regarding ransomware activity targeting health care facilities. On Twitter, CISA said “there is an imminent and increased cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.”

“CISA, FBI, and (the Department of Health and Human Services) have credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers,” the advisory stated. “CISA, FBI, and HHS are sharing this information to provide warning to healthcare providers to ensure that they take timely and reasonable precautions to protect their networks from these threats.”

A Trump administration official told CNN that some hospitals have already been affected.

Ransomware is a type of malware, or malicious software, that encrypts a victim’s files. The attacker then typically demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. Users are often shown instructions for how to pay a fee to get the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, often payable to cybercriminals in Bitcoin.

Ransomware and other cyber attacks have seen a sharp rise this year, and hospitals have been particularly vulnerable since the start of the global pandemic. Since July, hospitals in states including New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan have all been attacked by some form of ransomware.

A Trump administration official told CNN that several hospitals have been targeted in the attacks over the past two days, and while it’s still early, the official said the incidents may be connected. The federal government is investigating the attacks, the official said.

So far, St. Lawrence Health Systems in New York and the Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon confirmed to CNN that they were targeted over the past few days. The University of Vermont Health Network said in a press release Thursday that it is experiencing a “significant” and “ongoing” system-wide network issue, and is investigating all possible causes, including “a malicious cyberattack.”

Topic Discussed: Several hospitals targeted in new wave of ransomware attacks

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