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Ransomware attacks are causing panic and chaos


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More than 750 healthcare providers were hit with ransomware last year, according to Emsisoft, a New Zealand cybersecurity company offering free help to hospitals hit with ransomware. "We may be looking at a near-perfect storm in which healthcare providers are disrupted at the very time they are needed the most," the company says in a blog post. 


The attacks hit the largest and smallest of healthcare facilities. The World Health Organization has been attacked with multiple ransomware attempts, but has been able to deflect them with protective cybersecurity software, the giant medical organization's security chief told The Wall Street Journal this week. At the other end of the spectrum, Wood Ranch Medical, a clinic in Simi Valley, California, closed in December after ransomware damage was significant enough that the little clinic found "we cannot rebuild our medical records."


Ransomware is often unleashed when an employee clicks on a "phishing" link in an email, or downloads an attachment. Malware can then be released into an organization's computer systems that encrypts data, making it inaccessible. Emsisoft says the cost of ransomware last year may have reached $7.5 billion.



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