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Healthcare Ransomware Attacks On The Rise!

Since COVID-19 has begun, the attacks on healthcare providers has increased significantly. Factors contributing to such attacks include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Decentralized business operations

  • Emergency COVID-19 facilities set up without planned security of IT infrastructure

  • A significant rise in the amount of patient health data stored by healthcare organizations

  • Telehealth, and remote workers flung around the world almost overnight, opening up security gaps

Here are the five things healthcare providers can do to protect against ransomware attacks:

  1. Maintain IT hygiene. Make sure you’re practicing basic IT hygiene, which includes installing all the latest patches, shutting down RDP entirely (or putting it behind a VPN), and making regular back-ups and keeping them offsite where attackers can’t find them. It also includes applying multifactor authentication to services hosting the most sensitive data in your organization. These are just some of the fundamental steps you can take to protect yourself and your network today.

  2. Educate your users. Teach them about the importance of strong passwords and roll out two-factor authentication wherever you can. Educate them on phishing, which is one of the main delivery mechanisms for ransomware.

  3. Minimize the risk of lateral movement within your network. Segment LANs into smaller, isolated zones or VLANs that are secured and connected by the firewall. Be sure to apply suitable IPS policies to rules governing the traffic traversing these LAN segments in order to prevent exploits, worms, and bots from spreading between LAN segments. And if an infection hits, automatically isolate infected systems until they can be cleaned up.

  4. Use endpoint detection and response (EDR) tools with your endpoint protection. Targeted ransomware today isn’t just about stopping one piece of malware; it’s about stopping an active adversary and disrupting the attack chain that puts them in a position to run the malware. Ensure every endpoint is protected and up to date. A device not functioning correctly may not be protected and could be vulnerable to a ransomware attack. Use tools like EDR, which allow you to ask detailed questions so that you can hunt for active adversaries and identify advanced threats in your network. Once you do, EDR also helps you take appropriate actions quickly to stop such threats.

  5. Close the gap with human intervention. Computers, automation, and tools are amazing but human intellect, pattern recognition, and our ability to apply context provide an even more formidable defense. Managed detection and response (MDR) services are critical here. Pairing your internal IT and security teams with an external team of elite threat hunters and response experts helps provide actionable advice for addressing the root causes of recurring incidents.

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