LOCKBIT RANSOMWARE ATTACK – ARE HOSPITALS CYBER SAFE?
The first death connected to ransomware attack happened in Germany a few years back. There has been news of hospitals elsewhere as well having fallen prey to cyber-attacks. WannaCry impacting NHS in UK is also known. Closer home recently we had our prestigious AIIMS, Delhi under attack. What a ransomware attack can do a hospital can visualised by anyone who even has a faintest idea of this nature of attack. The damage can be humungous and that too directly to human life and health. Are our hospitals cyber safe? Can the best of the hospitals be made non-operational by a cyber-attack?
No hospital declares its cyber security preparedness. That seems to be a regulatory imperative as things stand now. A public disclosure should become a must. A recent Lockbit ransomware attacked on German hospitals has once again brought the limelight on this issue and it is not likely to move away till the time some effective solution is brought to the table. Three hospitals of the German hospital network KHO feared to have been attacked by Lockbit ransomware. Together the three hospitals impacted have 1842 beds, 18 specialist departments and 820 doctors, these numbers would give a fair idea of the impact.
Even to make out what all has been impacted and to what levels remains a challenge. Emergency care has been disrupted is the headline. The said attacked happened on Saturday early morning, 24th Dec 2023 and severely impacted the systems that support the operations of the three hospitals. It is said that unknown actors gained access to the systems of IT infrastructure and were successful in encrypting data. “For security reasons, all systems were shut down immediately upon discovery and all necessary parties and institutions were informed.” It could have dire repercussions for people in medical emergencies.
As per the experts based on first test conducted showed that it is probably a cyber-attack by Lockbit 3.0. As per the news the hospital management is not in position to predict the resolution time. At the present moment it is unforeseeable. This is nature of challenge we face. If it is Lockbit as suspected, it has not added KHO to its extortion portal on the dark web. Given this situation it is difficult to say whether or not the cyber criminals stole patient data or other sensitive information, as it remains undetermined. The harsh reality is it can happen to any hospital anywhere in the world.
CYBER SECURITY READINESS IS A MUST FOR MAINTAINING PEOPLE’S CONFIDENCE IN THE HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.