June 27, 2016 Articles

The Emergence of Ransomware as a Threat to Healthcare Providers

Hospitals have been a frequent and well-publicized target of ransomware attacks.

By Adam B. Peck and Eric W. Shannon

The dangers of cyber crime are not new. The spread of the ILOVEYOU virus in 2000 made many keenly aware, for the first time, of the threat posed by highly computer literate individuals with malicious intent. Recent high-profile events have shifted the focus from the vulnerability of individuals’ home computers to the larger scale dangers posed to servers, networks, and other digital systems owned and operated by businesses and other entities. Electronic data breaches affecting retailers, insurers, and even the United States government have touched hundreds of millions of individuals and made organizations more conscious of their cyber insecurity. In response to this new wave of cyber threats, organizations must be vigilant about emerging dangers and must react accordingly to protect their systems, prevent damage, and minimize their potential liability. One threat that has existed for years but recently risen in popularity among cyber criminals is the use of ransomware. Ransomware attacks pose a unique threat to healthcare providers such as hospitals, which are increasingly relying on electronic records and systems to carry out day-to-day operations.

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