Doctor Annalisa Silvestri during COVID-19 pandemic in Italy. The pandemic contributed to factors influencing attackers to target hospitals. (Alberto Giuliani/CC BY-SA 4.0)
A wave of ransomware attacks against hospitals in the United States and United Kingdom late last year shocked the conscious of many cybersecurity professionals. Things have only gotten worse for the health care industry since then.
In the two months following the ransomware hits, digital attacks against health care organizations around the world have spiked further, increasing 45%, according to new research from Check Point. That rise was significantly higher than other industries and coincides with a winter season when many western countries are dealing with overwhelmed hospitals and substantial increases in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths.
“This is precisely why criminals are specifically and callously targeting the health care sector: because they believe hospitals are more likely to meet their ransom demands,” Check Point wrote in a Jan. 5 blog.
It’s not just ransomware either; researchers say those figures also include increases in other attacks like DDoS, remote code execution and botnet takeovers. To put the barrage in perspective: in October, the number of weekly attacks in the health care sector averaged 430 per organization. Despite that stunningly-high baseline, that figure was up to 626 per organization for every week in November. Check Point believes that the success of ransomware operators have essentially rang the dinner bell for other cybercriminals and has signaled how easy targets like hospitals and healthcare facilities are to comp ..