A game of ‘cat and mouse’: Hacking attacks on hospitals for patient data increase during coronavirus pandemic
Despite COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals continue to hack hospital computer networks, hoping to steal medical records or obtain ransoms.
Karen Weintraub USA TODAYPublished 3:02 PM EDT Jul 13, 2020BOSTON – On the day before the July 4 holiday weekend, Mount Auburn Hospital’s information technology team identified some unusual activity. Alarmed, they quickly took steps to disconnect the Cambridge hospital’s computer system from the internet. They switched to backup manual procedures instead of automatic ones. No patient data was compromised, and the Harvard-affiliated hospital continued its normal operations, according to hospital officials.Such attempted attacks are a daily – if not hourly – occurrence at America’s hospitals. And they don’t always end as well as Mount Auburn’s did.More than 80% of medical practices have been the victims of cyberattacks, according to a national survey. Over half reported patient safety concerns from the hacks, and 20% said that their business had been interrupted for more than five hours. “That can be the difference between life and death,” said Wendi Whitmore, a cybersecurity expert and vice president of IBM X-Force, a commercial security research team.And the situation has only gotten worse during the monthslong coronavirus pandemic, as more employees switched to working from home, and medical facilities were cash-strapped and stretched thin because of COVID-19.Between March and April, IBM saw a 6,000% increase in spam attacks on