By Clifton Leaf and Sy Mukherjee
May 16, 2017

Good morning, readers. This is Sy.

The WannaCry ransomware attacks launched over the weekend wreaked havoc on the U.K.’s national health system. And while the global scope of the attack galvanized intense media coverage, the reality is that health care has grown increasingly susceptible to this specific kind of malware, which demands digital payment in exchange for sensitive personal and financial patient data.

As I reported yesterday, law enforcement agencies like the FBI have warned hospitals and medical providers about the industry’s widespread IT vulnerabilities. Between 2014 and this year, ransomware leaped from the 22nd most common form of digital malware attack to the fifth most common method, according to a 2017 Verizon Data Breach analysis. “For the attacker, holding files for ransom is fast, low risk and easily monetizable—especially with Bitcoin to collect anonymous payment,” wrote the report authors.

To wit: 72% of all health care malware attacks in 2016 were ransomware, and it was the second most cybercriminal-targeted industry behind the financial services sector. Considering the sprawling, federated nature of U.S. medicine, experts warn that a combination of government policies and health IT upgrades—as well as prophylactic human measures like changing passwords—will be necessary to keep patients’ data safe and health systems functioning.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee


You May Like