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Protecting Your Healthcare Organization from Ransomware

Medical Cyber Security BreachUnfortunately, ransomware is a word that has become all too familiar to healthcare organizations in the past year. Unlike cyber attacks on financial and retail industries, which are often directed at sensitive information itself, ransomware is used by hackers to encrypt files and databases and hold them for ransom.

Recent examples of ransomware attacks include Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Kentucky which reportedly paid a ransom of $17,000 to restore their systems. In addition, two Prime Healthcare Management hospitals, in California, were forced to shut down their systems. That attack also affected several other hospitals and affiliates on a shared network. Their organization did not pay a ransom stating that their IT team was able to implement the procedures they had in place to address the attack and lessen disruptions.

As these attacks on the healthcare industry continue to rise, Data Fast Solutions offers these tips on how to help protect your organization from malicious ransomware attacks.

End User Education

Medical Cyber AttackAs technology becomes more and more a part of our everyday lives, some organizations may take end user training for granted assuming that people may already know about cyber security. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Hackers bank on the end user being untrained in matters of cyber risk making it easier for them to implement their attacks.

The Symantec 2015 Internet Security Threat Report states that ransomware is often found in  email attachments that look like invoices or bills. The end user opens the attachment downloading and installing the ransomware unknowingly.  

In addition to email attachments, employees should be trained to never use hardware such as USB flash drives unless they are from trusted sources.

As companies become more mobile, training should also include information on attacks targeted at mobile devices. In the past, mobile technology was exempt from ransomware attacks, but this is no longer the case. Just as desktop computers and laptops can be affected, so too can mobile devices.

Data Fast Solutions recommends using real life scenarios in end-user training so the importance of cyber security in an employee’s day-to-day job may be retained more easily.

Backup Data

Paying a ransom for hijacked data is not necessary if systems have been backed up. It really can be as simple as that, yet many companies don’t bother to back up data or do so sporadically. Data Fast Solutions specializes in this process as a way to protect companies from ransomware and can quickly restore an organization’s data should an attack occur.

Effective Implementation of Policies and Procedures

Being prepared means knowing, in advance, what to do if and when a cyber attack occurs. This seems like common sense, yet many organizations in the healthcare industry are still in a reactive, instead of proactive, mode when such an attack occurs. Having well planned policies and procedures in place will lessen the impact of an attack. Well laid plans can seamlessly thwart an otherwise detrimental attack by lessening downtime and the costs associated with an incapacitated system.    

Test and Test Again

Training end-users, backing up data, and having solid policies and procedures in place are a good start, but testing is one of the most important aspects of  keeping a company well-protected from cyber attacks. If testing does not occur, there will be no way to determine if the efforts in place will work effectively.

Collaborate with External Cyber Security Professionals

Once a business has a good, well-tested plan in place to counter a ransomware attack, that plan must be reevaluated on an on-going basis. This will ensure any potential weak links are discovered as hackers up their game. Cyber security partners like Data Fast Solutions continually provide cyber security analysis to keep an organization safe. This is done by making sure there are security points in place throughout an entire network and alerts are responded to quickly if a breach is attempted.

This article is ©2016 Data Fast Solutions • All Rights Reserved

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