A recent study made by a team of independent security researchers has determined that ransomware infections spread to hospital networks are leading to increased death rates among patients with heart issues. The study also claims that the malware attacks have also lead to heart attacks among patients due to a digital delay in remediation.
After examining data from more than 3000 resources pertaining to Medicare Certified Hospitals in United States, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management determined that nearly 300 hospitals which experienced ransomware attacks between 2012 and 2016 witnessed an increase in death of heart patients as the patient data could be accessed on time by the doctors due to file encryption.
For instance, patients in ransomware attack affected hospitals have to wait an extra 45 minutes to receive an electrocardiogram after a security breach or a cyber incident occurred.
What’s more concerning about this issue is that some hackers managed to manipulate cancerous CT and MRI Scans due to specifically designed malware that made many radiologists get fooled by the results- thus influencing them to predict wrong diagnosis, treatment, and the outcome.
Although, many of the hospitals have tried to implement better security measures than previous years, like multi-factor authentication and stronger password management; they’re still aren’t sure whether they can provide timeliness care to patients when cyberattacks cripple their digital infrastructure again.
“At this stage, there is only one alternative and that is to go for a congressional investigation on the current healthcare digital infrastructure, diagnosis, treatment and whereabouts and outlining the improvements needed to Cybersecurity computerized healthcare systems”, says Leo Scanlon, the CISO of US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Note- In March 2019, there were media speculations that a team of researchers from the University of Cyber Security Research Center of Israel has developed malware that can alter the radio-images of CT and MRI scans- leading to the wrong misdiagnosis which can also lead to death.