Why do cyber attackers use ransomware to attack hospitals and public administration?

Imagine that you or a loved one is lying in a hospital bed, waiting for your doctor, and you notice the suspiciously decapitated medical staff in the corridors. a reason? At that moment, a cyberattack occurred.

All patient data, files, patient history, prescribed medications, current treatment…everything is old or in the hands of online attackers. As patients wait helplessly for medical help and an explanation of what’s going on, in the background, IT experts and ethical hackers tirelessly try to restore order. What happened? How did online harassment manage to bypass hospital security systems? The most common reason for successful hacking is phishing attacks or social engineering attacks. An unsuspecting nurse or doctor opened a legitimate-looking message about the new coronavirus measures, clicked on a link, and downloaded ransomware or similar malware. Thus, hackers gain access to the computer system, encrypt confidential files, and demand payment for the decryption key. Amounts can run into hundreds of millions of euros (depending on the amount and type of data).

These more impatient black hats (the malicious intruders) wait several months after they have succeeded before carrying out their attack. Imagine the damage they could cause during this time period. Usually this damage is financial and logistical, but now human lives are at stake. During the pandemic, the number and intensity of cyber attacks on hospitals, health facilities and public administration has increased dramatically. The attacks expose the dark side of patient care, which is increasingly digitally concentrated.

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