Illinois healthcare provider SMP Health will close in part due to the fnancial impact from a disruptive ransomware attack. St. Margaret’s Health located in Spring Valley will cease operations this week, NBC News reports.
“Due to a number of factors, such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the cyberattack on the computer system of St. Margaret’s Health, and a shortage of staff, it has become impossible to sustain our ministry,” said Suzanne Stahl, the chair of SMP Health.
Closure of the facility will force local residents to travel about half an hour to receive any emergency or obstetrics services.
“The hospital closure will have a profound impact on the well-being of our community. This will be a challenging transition for many residents who rely on our hospital for quality healthcare,” said Spring Valley’s Mayor Melanie Malooley-Thompson.
Takeaway: The demise of St. Margaret's Health due to its inability to process payments following a disruptive ransomware attack demonstrates how fragile our healthcare system is.
Unfortunately, given that healthcare providers continue to be a favorite target of some of the most notorious ransomware operators, we are likely to see more regional healthcare providers suffer the same fate.
There is no way to argue against the fact that ransomware attacks on healthcare providers pose a significant threat to human life.
While many perceive the healthcare industry to be well funded and stable, that is a huge misconception. The reality is despite the fact that some doctors and specialists may make a good living, the healthcare system in our nation is largely operated by non-profit entities that work on shoestring margins.
Criminal ransomware groups know that the impact of an attack against healthcare organizations does not just disrupt everyday business; it directly affects the lives of their patients. Furthermore, these organizations typically lack the appropriate budgets and staff to maintain a reasonable security posture, making them easy targets.
The average time it takes for an organization to recover from a ransomware attack has been pegged at about three weeks or more, according to multiple studies. However, in this case the attack occurred over three years ago.
While a private, profitable organization with ample resources may be able to weather such a lengthy disruption to operations, the healthcare game is one of immediacy - patients are different than customers, and in most cases, they cannot afford delays in treatment without putting their health or lives at risk.
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