Physician Practice

Ransomware a new threat to healthcare sector

Physician Practice Insider, May 3, 2016

In addition to hackers attempting to steal medical records, medical groups are now facing a new threat in the form of ransomware, a type of malware that locks users out of their own computer systems by remotely setting a new encryption code.

The threat of ransomware attacks was cited in the 2016 Threats Predictions report from McAfee Labs. The report predicted that ransomware attacks “will remain a major and rapidly growing threat in 2016” due to the recent success of the “ransomware-as-a-service business model.”
The study noted that more hackers in 2015 were using “virtual currencies for payments” and that “we expect to see more of this in 2016 as inexperienced cyber-criminals will gain access to this service while staying relatively anonymous.”

The study also predicts that the attacks will become more sophisticated and reach into backup files as they lock owners out of their own systems. “For example, new variants may start to silently encrypt data. The encrypted files will be backed up, and eventually the attacker will pull the key, resulting in encrypted files both on the system and in the backup. Other new variants might use kernel components to hook the file system and encrypt files on the fly as the user accesses them.”

This article was originally published in Physician Practice Perspectives. Subscribers can read the full article in the May 2016 issue.

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