It has been warned that cyber criminals will target hospitals across the UK by demanding ransom which will leave thousands of BRITS patients without treatment as the operation theaters will also be shut down to get cash.
Cyber gangs are already attacking NHS trusts and private healthcare organizations to extract ransom but the matter is going to worsen in future. Hackers can take over hospital systems simply using an email download link or booby-trapping a website they know employees will visit. As the employees will click on the malicious link, the software will infect the system and destroy all the stored information.
The hospital systems are loaded with patient’s data and schedules which are necessary for everyday running of the hospital. With the information stolen, the hospital management will be forced to pay the ransom and if not the hackers could then threaten to switch off life-saving kit mid-operation which can be a critical situation, say experts.
More than 26 NHS trusts were targeted by ransom hackers in the past 12 months, according to web company NCC Group. Last week only, three hospitals were forced to shut down as a computer virus had struck down the systems.
The October 30 attack is yet to be confirmed if it was a ransom attack or not but the attack had affected thousands of patients across three hospitals in Goole, Grimsby and Scunthorpe. Several appointments and operations were canceled till November 01.
Between 2015 and 2016 ransomware attacks grew eightfold.
Hospitals in the US have already begun paying out ransoms to hackers after they targeted their systems. One of them in Los Angeles paid up to 12,000 earlier this year.
Medical facilities are usual preys to cyber attacks due to the sensitive nature of the data they store and the urgency of healthcare services thus attracting cybercriminals like bees to honey.