Attacks using ransomware is a growing trend amongst cyber criminals, and as such an increasing cyber security risk. In its simplest form, it is the practice of disabling a network or preventing access to it and demanding money in exchange for restored access. This can be devastating for commercial organisations but is an even more serious threat when public bodies and essential service providers are concerned. The latest case involved a hospital, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre in the US. Hackers are reported to have demanded over $3 million to reinstate access to the hospital’s systems.
The attack is currently the subject of an investigation by the police, the FBI and independent computer experts which the hospital has brought in to assist with the inquiry. Though no official comment has been made about the details of the ransom demands, it has been reported that staff have had to resort to pen and paper to carry out some of their duties and the security of patient data, including medical history and medication requirements, has been compromised. This latest attack is set against the backdrop of an independent research into the apparent ease with which researchers have been able to access hospital software through their unsecured networks, with all the attendant possibilities of manipulating patient care and safety.
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