The HHS reported a significant increase in “large breaches” and ransomware incidents to its Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
In 2023, there were more breaches compared to the previous year. Over 88 million individuals were affected, which is a 60% increase. According to the HHS, hacking was responsible for 77% of these breaches.
It’s unclear from the statement how many breaches stemmed from ransomware incidents this year, although it would appear to be a key driver.
“Ransomware attacks are increasingly common and targeting the healthcare system. This leaves hospitals and their patients vulnerable to data and security breaches.” said OCR director, Melanie Fontes Rainer.
“In this ever-evolving space, it is critical that our healthcare system take steps to identify and address cybersecurity vulnerabilities along with proactively and regularly review risks, records, and update policies. These practices should happen regularly across an enterprise to prevent future attacks.”
A recent report by Sophos showed that 60% of healthcare organizations surveyed had experienced a ransomware breach in the past year. This is a slight decrease compared to 2022 when the number was 66%. However, in 75% of these incidents, the data was successfully encrypted. Healthcare organizations were only able to stop an attack before data encryption in 25% of cases, which is lower than the previous year’s 34%.
Ransomware attacks pose a serious threat to health and safety, according to Jan Lovmand, CTO of BullWall.
“These attacks not only disrupt the delivery of essential medical services, postponing critical surgeries and treatments and putting patients’ lives at risk, but also compromise the security of sensitive patient information,” he added.
“Hospitals and healthcare organizations are particularly attractive targets for cybercriminals, and their reliance on technology to manage everything from patient records to surgical equipment makes them uniquely vulnerable. This is compounded by their limited resources to invest in cybersecurity measures.”