Phishing and Ransomware – The Gruesome Twosome of Cyber Attacks

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations. Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, “Significant security incidents continue to plague healthcare organizations of all types and sizes. Phishing is the most common type of significant security incident.”

Phishing and ransomware are the one-two punch of significant cyber risks. Phishing is typically the initial hook for significant security incidents, and occurs when a bad actor targets a user by email, telephone, or text message, posing as a legitimate company or organization to persuade the user to provide sensitive information, such as personal identifiers, banking information, credit card information and passwords. 

Using phishing tactics, a hacker can pose as an organization to get login information from an employee. Then using the login information they stole, place ransomware in the employer company’s critical systems.

Ransomware is malicious software that blocks access to an organization’s critical computer systems until a sum of money, the ransom, is paid. The FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have published guidance urging victim organizations not to pay ransoms; they warn that paying hackers does not guarantee data will be returned and may encourage future strikes.   

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Cybersecurity Career Awareness Week

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations. Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, “Cybersecurity budgets are still lacking with typically 6% or less of the information technology budget allocated for this purpose. A large attack surface exists within many healthcare organizations due to the profound lack of resources.”

Even as cyberattacks are increasing exponentially, businesses including healthcare organizations are facing another significant risk –  a shortage of available, qualified cybersecurity professionals. 

According to the fifth annual global study of cybersecurity professionals by the Information Systems Security Association (ISSA), more than 57% of organizations have been negatively impacted by the “cybersecurity skills crisis.” Of the professionals surveyed by ISSA, 95% indicated the skills shortage has not improved in recent years and 44% say it has worsened. 

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Have you updated your software today?

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations. Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, “Relatively few healthcare organizations are conducting end-to-end security risk assessments. Sensitive information is exposed and such systems are vulnerable to attack.”

A simple yet important precaution to reduce cybersecurity risks is ensuring software updates and patches are applied in a timely manner. Though they are easy to ignore, most software updates or patches are important, as they address a vulnerability or security flaw in the endpoint of computer systems or medical devices. 

Healthcare organizations have been increasingly targeted with ransomware and other cyberattacks since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has shown hackers’ ability to endanger healthcare organizations’ operations as well as patient lives. 

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Passphrases are good, multi-factor authentication is better

By Nam Nguyen, Vice Chair
EHRA Privacy & Security Workgroup

October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, and the Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA) will use this opportunity to share helpful reminders of cybersecurity fundamentals throughout the month. 

The 2020 HIMSS Cybersecurity Survey provides a look into cybersecurity issues facing US healthcare organizations.  Based upon the feedback from 168 US-based healthcare cybersecurity professionals, healthcare organizations must deal with a growing array of significant security incidents. These issues not only compromise the integrity of your technology and the privacy of patients, but can also disrupt an organization’s ability to provide patient care.

Being prepared for cyberattacks requires doing all you can to reduce cybersecurity risks. One of the most significant risks identified by security professionals is password management. Many people are still using simple passwords such as a series of numbers (123456) or easily guessed words (password). However, the easier it is to guess a password, the higher the risk of being compromised by a cyberattack. 

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