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March 2018, Vol. 6, No. 2

Healthcare ransomware attacks threaten patient safety

A new cybersecurity scourge is plaguing health IT. It's the fear, and reality, of healthcare ransomware attacks crippling hospital data systems and harming patient safety. Of course, the traditional cybersecurity specter is still hovering: hacker-triggered health data breaches that have terrorized healthcare organizations since electronic health records proliferated in the industry in the 2000s. But the health IT counter-hacker corps has made big strides in combatting that adversary. And, besides, breaches don't usually hurt anyone directly. Ransomware disturbs patient care Not so with healthcare ransomware attacks. Patients' physiological health is at stake here -- even if patients are only collateral damage in cybercriminals' blackmail campaigns and there's no evidence of any concerted attack on a specific person. Apparently, no one has counted just how many patients had surgeries canceled or postponed after the WannaCry ransomware strikes took down at least 16 hospitals in the British public healthcare system in May 2017. One...

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