Cyber attacks against the healthcare industry are expected to grow

Pierluigi Paganini December 23, 2016

The number of cyber attacks against organizations in the healthcare industry is increasing, this trend is expected to continue in 2017.

The monitoring of the activity in the cyber criminal underground is essential for investigators and security experts. The value of illegal products and services gives us a precious information on cyber criminal trends. Security experts are observing a significant drop in the black market value of stolen medical records, this data suggests criminal organizations are focusing their efforts elsewhere.

Criminal organizations are more focused on stealing data to spread ransomware, according to a report released by the security firm TrapX.

Crooks are offering stolen records for a price ranging between $1.50 and $10 each. Across the months the price is dropped as never before, this summer cyber criminals offered 10 million patient records on TheRealDeal black marketplace for about $820,000, roughly $12 per record. Lots of data containing a smaller number of records were offered with a price per single records ranging from $40 up to $60. In 2012 the World Privacy Forum estimated the value of medical records on the criminal underground at around $50 each.

Data in medical records are precious commodities for crooks that can use them for identity theft and medical billing frauds and scams.

Anthony James, CMO at TrapX explained that the black market has become saturated, in 2015 expert estimated that about 112 million records were stolen, including 80 million records from the Anthem data breach.

“2015 was obviously a year where cybersecurity came to the forefront for the health care industry,” James told to CSOonline.

Another interesting data emerged from the report is the number of organizations breached by cyber criminals that passed from 57 last year to 93 this year, up from 36 in 2015.

The overall number of records lost fell by nearly 90 percent to just 12 million records.

TrapX analyzed all the breaches reported to the Department of Health and Human Services resulting from hacking activities.

According to the experts, 31% of all major HIPAA data breaches were caused by sophisticated attacks, a 300% increase over the past three years.

“Researchers pinpointed two major trends from 2016: the continued discovery and evolution of medical device hijacking, which TrapX calls MEDJACK and MEDJACK.2, and the increase of ransomware across a variety of targets.” reported DarkReading.

The researchers explained that companies that have six months to report the incident, this means that we will have news of some attacks occurred in 2016 during H1 2017 and the estimates made by the experts at TrapX could be pejorative.

The experts highlighted that the falling price for stolen records is pushing scammers to try to monetize their efforts in other ways, like ransomware-based attacks.

“That’s why ransomware has started to increase,” James said. “That’s where they’re getting their money now.”

This trend is expected to continue in 2017 that will be a difficult year for the healthcare.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(Security Affairs – healthcare, cybercrime)

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