27 September 2019

Reports show that ransomware and other cyberattacks are on the rise — and health care is one of the biggest targets. Just this week, researchers in Israel announced that they’d created a computer virus capable of adding tumors into CT and MRI scans — malware designed to fool doctors into misdiagnosing high-profile patients, Kim Zetter reports for The Washington Post. Despite the rising threat, the vast majority of hospitals and physicians are unprepared to handle cybersecurity threats, even though they pose a major public health problem. The health care industry increasingly relies on technology that’s connected to the internet: from patient records and lab results to radiology equipment and hospital elevators. That’s good for patient care, because it facilitates data integration, patient engagement, and clinical support. On the other hand, those technologies are often vulnerable to cyberattacks, which can siphon off patient data, hijack drug infusion devices to mine cryptocurrency, or shut down an entire hospital until a ransom is paid. “If systems are disrupted over the internet, by an adversary or an accident, that can have a profound impact on patient care,” says Beau Woods, a cybersecurity advocate and cybersafety innovation fellow with the Atlantic Council.