We usually think of hack attacks for financial gains taking the form of copying credit card and other financial information from companies’ servers and selling it on the black market. But new tactics are coming about – tactics which cyber criminals are using with increasing frequency. Hackers are now beginning to steal data from companies and hold it until a hefty ransom is paid.
Take this recent case, for example. An Illinois medical practice, The Surgeons of Lake County, suffered a security breach when hackers burrowed into the company’s computer network where it stored its email correspondence and medical records. The hackers stole and encrypted the data and then asked for payment in return for access to the information. Although the practice is successful and situated in an affluent area, it’s a long way off being considered a high profile entity.
This attack is symbolic of a trend of increasingly diverse and numerous hack attacks. Bloomberg warns that companies that deal in any way with sensitive data on their computer systems need to ensure they have adequate cyber insurance, even small businesses that think they could never be attacked. But healthcare providers are at even greater risk due to the breadth and nature of the data they collect and store and the fact that easily accessing this data is crucial for day-to-day operations.
The Surgeons of Lake County refused to pay the ransom. It is not known whether they have found another way to access the data or if they had any backups.