Cyberattacks are in the news lately, the most prominent right now being the current Colonial pipeline infrastructure attack underway by a group that has been identified as DarkSide.
This has gotten me to wonder how much of a problem a cyberattack of this nature might be (or is) for the healthcare industry. So I did some research.
Growing levels of cybercrime in all sorts of areas are the inevitable result of a world increasingly dependent on computers and the benefits they provide. A dark side of the boon (appropriate way to put it, I suppose) is that the vulnerability of computers and their systems now being demonstrated reveals the trouble the world may come to be in as a result of such attacks.
While we perhaps usually think of cybercrime as a problem in financial areas, such as banking, finance, or, indeed, in infrastructure, it is also becoming more prevalent in other areas that involve the presence of money and its various modes of transfer.
Healthcare and the money it involves is becoming one of those areas as well.
This first article presents a general picture of the growing phenomenon of cybercrime in the healthcare industry: https://cybersecurityguide.org/industries/healthcare/#:~:text=health%20organizations%2c%20large%20and%20small%2c%20are%20prime%20targets,resources%20necessary%20to%20mount%20a%20formidable%20cyberdefense%20strategy.
Excerpts:"Over the past decade, the cyberthreat to the healthcare industry has increased dramatically, along with the sophistication of cyberattacks."
"Cyberattacks are of particular concern for the health sector because attacks can directly threaten not just the security of systems and information but also the health and safety of patients."
"Healthcare organizations are attractive targets for cybercriminals for three main reasons: criminals can quickly sell patient medical and billing information on the darknet for insurance fraud purposes ... Ransomware’s ability to lock down patient care and back-office systems make lucrative ransom payments likely ... Internet-connected medical devices are susceptible to tampering."
But while cyberattacks on financial records are serious, such mischief in the actual medical treatment
processes is both possible as well, and there have been instances of it.
This article describes an example of the intrusion of cybercrime into actual ongoing radiation treatment for cancer patients, specifically an event that occurred recently in the U.S., delaying RT treatments for patients at the time they were getting them.
"Cyber-attack disrupts cancer care across U.S."https://www.securityinfowatch.com/healthcare/news/21220570/cyberattack-disrupts-cancer-care-across-us
And this brief Youtube video tells of a widow receiving fake bills for her husband's treatment after he had earlier died of PCa:https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=cybercrime+cancer+youtube&docid=608030681874589062&mid=606d34585196e8e93df1606d34585196e8e93df1&view=detail&form=vire
Will we be seeing more of such incidents in the future? Ransomware attacks, for example, with payment forced to be made before computers are released and RT is allowed to resume?
A websearch for solutions to this problem pulls up numerous articles proposing solutions. Here's one that's brief, but seems to offer what look like some good strategies to counter this problem:https://healthinformatics.uic.edu/blog/cybersecurity-how-can-it-be-improved-in-health-care/#:~:text=according%20to%20healthit.gov%2c%20individual%20health%20care%20organizations%20can,be%20breached%20when%20physical%20devices%20are%20stolen.%20
As in other areas, it will always be a race between the cybercriminals and the cybersecurity people, who has the upper hand at any given moment, in controlling the spread of cybercrime. If the problem gets worse, then security measures will be enhanced accordingly.
But in the meantime, it's saddening to see the despicable lengths that some criminals will go to, including interfering with patients' cancer treatments, just to steal money.