There has been a global uptick and a wide variety of incidences in 2019 related to ransomware in the healthcare industry. Ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated and are not just targeting hardware and software vulnerabilities. Criminals are leveraging social engineering to find opportunities to exploit businesses.
Medical practices today must diligently protect their patient and financial data and take the necessary actions to make sure the software systems are up-to-date and not susceptible to malicious software.
What is Healthcare Ransomware?
Ransomware is malicious software designed to block access to a computer system and has the potential to affect any site that has not protected itself from these kinds of vulnerabilities or exploits. Exploits typically use vulnerabilities in popular platform software such as Microsoft Windows, web browsers, and Microsoft Office to infect devices. Software updates patch vulnerabilities, so they aren’t available to exploit.
What Should You Do About Ransomware?
To help prevent these types of cyber-attacks and to take measures to protect your practices patient and financial data, secure your backups offsite and upgrade your Microsoft software products and other susceptible software platforms as soon as possible. Note: ransomware is not an athenaPractice product issue.
General recommendations and supporting documentation:
- Utilize an offsite backup schedule for database backups at a minimum. (offsite backups have proven to be the most effective method for recovering data).
- Make sure your security and firewall applications are up-to-date.
- Follow ransomware best practices per this Microsoft webpage.
- Regularly and promptly patch all systems in your environment with the latest operating system and application security patches. New vulnerabilities are often quickly exploited by attackers after they are discovered.
- Periodically scan your systems with a vulnerability scanner to discover missing security patches and end-of-life software.
- Disable Remote Desktop Protocol in all cases where it’s not necessary.
- Never open Remote Desktop Protocol to the public Internet. Limit the use of Remote Desktop Protocol to users behind a firewall or connecting through a VPN.
- Enable Network Level Authentication on Windows Servers that require the use of the Remote Desktop Protocol.
Don’t let key infrastructure and applications go unprotected. Your EMR/PM vendor can help you remain at optimal performance and security.
Refer to these additional resources to learn more:
Microsoft: About Ransomware