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US More hospitals hit by ransomware as feds warn about cyberattacks

19:45  29 october  2020
19:45  29 october  2020 Source:   nbcnews.com

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A recent wave of ransomware attacks has infected more hospitals than previously known, including a University of Vermont network with locations in New York and Vermont.

a building with a clock on the side of a road © Provided by NBC News

The University of Vermont Health Network is analyzing what appears to be a ransomware attack from the same cybercrime gang that has infected at least three other hospitals in recent weeks, according to two sources familiar with the investigation who weren’t authorized to comment on it before it is complete.

Several federal agencies warned Wednesday of "an increased and imminent cybercrime threat" to the country's health care providers, particularly from a gang that uses a strand of ransomware called Ryuk. The warning comes as the U.S. has repeatedly hit record highs for daily confirmed coronavirus infections.

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Two other hospital chains have recently confirmed cyberattacks, believed to be ransomware, by the same gang: the Sky Lakes Medical Center, with 21 locations in Oregon, and the St. Lawrence Health System in northern New York.It was not clear how much of their systems or how many locations had been hit by the ransomware.

Details about a major wave of ransomware attacks on U.S. hospitals began to emerge at the end of September when computer systems for Universal Health Services, one of the biggest hospital chains in the country, were hit forcing some doctors and nurses to use pen and paper to file patient information. Jane Crawford, the chain’s director of public relations, said in an email at the beginning of October that no one had died because of the attack.

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Ransomware attacks often gain access to secure systems and then encrypt files, with the people behind the attacks then demanding money in order to decrypt the files.

Ryuk is transmitted through one of the cybercrime world’s largest and most notorious botnets — an aligned army of compromised computers — referred to in cybersecurity terms as Trickbot. Both Microsoft and reportedly the U.S. Cyber Command have independently undertaken efforts recently to disrupt Trickbot, though apparently without enough success to prevent this wave of hospital infections.

Brett Callow, an analyst for cybersecurity company Emsisoft, said the true extent of the attacks has yet to be uncovered and that local reports about hospitals indicated several more had been hit.

Ransomware attacks have been a consistent threat to American industry and local governments for several years, but attacks on the country’s health care systems have risen this year, said Allan Liska, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, who monitors known infections.

“We’ve tracked 62 reported healthcare ransomware infections this year. Compared to 50 all of last year,” Liska said in a text message.

“Keep in mind that unless an incident becomes public, there is a couple-of-month lag between the incident and reporting. So the real number is much higher,” Liska said.

Cyber ​​attacks: ransomware alert on the US and Canadian healthcare sectors .
US authorities have issued a warning bulletin on the basis of "credible information" about "an imminent and heightened cybercrime threat targeting the sector of health ”. Several hospitals have been hit in recent days by ransomware. Already exhausted by the Covid-19 pandemic, American hospitals must face a new threat: ransomware.

usr: 9
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