Home Tech giants tackle hospital cyber crisis

Tech giants tackle hospital cyber crisis

June 10th — Earlier today, Microsoft and Google announced the launch of low cost and no cost cyber security services for vulnerable, rural American hospitals.

Eligible rural hospitals will receive free security updates, cyber security assessments and cyber security awareness training for hospital staff, as provided by Microsoft.

Google is has committed to starting a pilot program that matches the company’s cyber security capabilities with the precise needs of select rural hospitals.

Rural community hospitals at-risk

In the U.S., nearly 1,800 rural community hospitals are considered particularly vulnerable to ransomware, as they generally lack the financial resources to make extensive cyber security investments.

Problematically, these hospitals are sometimes the only full-service healthcare facilities across huge geographical expanses — meaning that a ransomware attack that forces ambulances to drive elsewhere could put patients’ lives at-risk.

Tech firms partner with White House

The Microsoft and Google cyber security initiative is the product of private discussions between technology companies and the White House National Security Council, which is growing increasingly concerned about healthcare-related cyber threats.

The U.S. government also plans to announce new minimum cyber security requirements for American hospitals. The proposal is still under deliberation.

The magnitude of the threat

The U.S. healthcare sector has seen a 128% increase in ransomware attacks year-over-year, according to data provided by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In February, a large-scale ransomware attack on a health insurance billing company stopped healthcare groups from operating as normal, and forced several clinics to the brink of bankruptcy.

In May, a ransomware attack on one of America’s largest hospital networks resulted in over two weeks of electronic system dysfunction, and ultimately jeopardized patients’ lives.

For more on this emerging story, click here.

Be sure to see CyberTalk.org’s past healthcare coverage here. Lastly, to receive cyber security thought leadership articles, groundbreaking research and emerging threat analyses each week, subscribe to the CyberTalk.org newsletter.