Quality & Patient Safety

NotPetya and ransomware: Six steps to help you beat hackers

Patient Safety Monitor, January 1, 2018

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The NotPetya computer hack that hit healthcare facilities last summer is a warning to get creative about tightening up security.

In the last week of June 2017, foreign-born computer malware attacked the systems of several U.S. companies—including Princeton Community Hospital in Princeton, West Virginia, and Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

This “NotPetya” malware is named after the 2016 Petya ransomware that it superficially resembles, according to Steven J. Hausman of Hausman Technology Presentations in Gaithersburg, Maryland. But it’s not really ransomware, and despite its so-far limited reach, that’s what makes it so frightening.

Health IT professionals will remember how in the course of just one weekend in May 2017, more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries were held hostage by a ransomware virus called “WannaCry,” including two multistate systems in the U.S. that successfully defended against the initial May 12 attack but found the malware lurking on isolated computers. The virus was later traced back to North Korean hackers.

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