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Healthcare Ransomware Attack Declines despite Flashy Attack

A report released by Cryptonite, a cyber-security firm shows that ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations are on a decline despite flashy attacks recently. According to the report, the number of ransomware attacks decreased from 19 in the first quarter of 2017 to eight in the same quarter of 2018. Despite the Allscripts and Labcorp attack in the healthcare industry, there has been a 57 percent decrease in ransomware attacks in 2018 as compared to 2017. This in a way shows that the health institutions have prioritized cyber security. Compared to the 140 IT/hacking incidents recorded in the first half of 2017, 59 IT/hacking cases have been recorded so far in 2018 according to the report. Researches by other firms also establish a similar trend.

Michael Simon, the CEO and President of the cybersecurity firm said that he expects cybercriminals to adjust their techniques to regain control over medical and mobile devices in response to the downtrend in the use of ransomware in the first half of 2018.

There has been a nine percent increase in compromised records compared to last year, with 1,928,432 comprised record cases recorded so far.

Simon added that healthcare will continue to be a target for cybercriminals as they seek to offer obtained records for sale on the dark web. Last year, it was reported that 76 percent of hacked health organization data was sold on the darknet. Medical records have been said to contain a complete data plan for identity theft and financial fraud.

Another firm, Skybox security released a similar report. According to them, the second half of 2017 recorded 32 percent of ransomware related cases and seven percent of cryptocurrency miners while the first half of 2018 recorded 32 percent of cryptocurrency miners and eight percent of ransomware attacks. This report confirms a decline in ransomware attack in 2018 just as Cryptonite reported.

According to the report, browser based malware is still on the rise and organizations are prone to malware attacks. This has been attributed to the fact that it always has to interact with websites. And mostly, cybercriminals infect applications with malwares difficult to detect. This constant interaction explains why browser based malware is still on the rise. Individuals and institutions are still advised to take cyber-security serious. Institutions have been advised to invest in cyber-security to avoid falling into the hands of cybercriminals.

Kaspersky Lab, another cyber-security firm experienced a decline in ransomware attacks on the users of its products. To demonstrate, 2,581,026 ransomware attacks recorded in 2016-2017 declined to 1,811,937 in 2017-2018. In total, there has been a 30 percent decrease. Unlike the middle of 2017 which experienced a number of ransomware attacks sending the recorded number of cases very high, this year has been quite different. Its users who encountered cryptocurrency miners have however risen by 44.5 percent. They recorded 1,899,236 attacks in 2016-2017. This increased to 2,735,611 in 2017-2018.

The Kaspersky report explained that ransomware attackers usually gain huge profits for each successful operation. However, cryptocurrency miners make less as compared to them, but they are able to mine continuously for a long term.

Ransomware has been quite popular over the years, more so than the cryptocurrency miners because they require encryption to hold data hostage, and take note of how victims go about the ransom payment. Criminals who use the cryptocurrency miners, can mine cryptocurrencies from the source. Cryptocurrency miners affect healthcare by degrading their IT organization structure due to the computational power involved in mining. With the increasing awareness programs, it is expected that organizations will employ measures to deal with this side of the attacks.

Skybox Director of Threat Intelligence Marina Kidron believes that the commotion caused by the Wannacry attack last year forced institutions to take proactive measures against cyber-attacks. Most healthcare institutions have backup plans and thwarted attacks with decryption programs. It has been reported also, that the rise in Bitcoin’s value has been one of the reasons for the high record of ransomware cases. With respect to this, it can be concluded that the poor performance and the constant fall in cryptocurrency value has led to the less ransomware attacks in 2018.

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