Ransomware Attacks on the Health Care Sector Are of Growing Concern

Dental practices are advised to implement stronger defenses against hackers, as ransomware attacks more than quadrupled in 2016. Of these, nearly half were launched on the health care sector. These attacks are projected to double in 2017, according to a Beazley Breach Insights report. Beazley, an insurer, reports that organizations are especially vulnerable to attacks during IT freezes and at the end of financial quarters. Hackers will often attack a practice’s system, lock critical files and demand ransoms for unencrypted files.

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On a positive note, it observes that “hacks and malware accounted for only 19% of breaches in 2016, down from 27% in 2015” — a move that signals the health care industry may be improving defenses against attacks. However, unintended disclosure — such as misdirected faxes and emails, or the improper release of records — accounted for 40% of breaches in the health care industry in 2016, an increase from 30% in 2015.

To better protect against ransomware attacks, Beazley recommends that practices deploy prevention and detection tools, use threat intelligence services, train managers and employees in threat awareness and cyber security, and conduct risk assessments focused on identifying and protecting sensitive data.

From Decisions in Dentistry. July 2017;3(7):11.

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