Ransomware Attacks on Healthcare Cost the US Tens of Billions


November 21, 2023

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A new report finds that 539 known ransomware attacks targeting healthcare organizations in the US since 2016 compromised more than 52 million patient records and have cost providers about $80 billion in network downtime losses.

"While ransomware attacks, in general, are destructive, the impacts on healthcare facilities are arguably some of the most catastrophic. They cripple key systems and prevent hospitals from accessing crucial patient data until a fee is paid to the hacker or the ransomware is removed by IT specialists,” Comparitech reports.

“For example, CommonSpirit Health, an Illinois-based healthcare system with more than 700 care sites and 142 hospitals, suffered a ransomware attack in October 2022. The overall cost of the attack has hit a minimum amount of $160 million, with the value still expected to rise. It was reported after the attack that 400 care sites were brought offline for three weeks.”

Takeaway: Ransomware operators know that the impact of an attack against healthcare organizations does not just disrupt operations; it directly threatens the lives of their patients. This is the leverage they use to compel ransom payments.  

Ransomware groups continue to prove they have zero conscience with regard to human life and the potential for suffering or even death. They continue to victimize healthcare providers simply because they are easy targets.  

Ransomware attacks are the biggest threat facing organizations today, and healthcare providers have been hit particularly hard. The demise of SMP Health back in June due to its inability to process payments following a disruptive ransomware attack demonstrates how fragile our healthcare system is.  

Unfortunately, given that healthcare providers are 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, and it is surprising we have not seen more negative outcomes for patients given the incredible metrics on healthcare system downtime.

The healthcare system is largely operated by non-profit entities who work on shoestring margins. This sector typically lacks the appropriate budgets and staff to maintain a reasonable security posture.

The average time it takes for an organization to recover from a ransomware attack has been pegged at about three weeks or more. 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.

Halcyon.ai is the industry’s first dedicated, adaptive security platform that combines multiple advanced proprietary prevention engines along with AI models focused specifically on stopping ransomware – talk to a Halcyon expert today to find out more. Halcyon also publishes a quarterly RaaS and extortion group reference guide, Power Rankings: Ransomware Malicious Quartile.