RICHLAND, Wash. - A California health care clinic will close its doors in December after the provider was unable to recover patient records that were encrypted by ransomware this summer.
Earlier this year, a Spokane medical group had to pay hackers nearly $15,000 to decrypt patient information that was held hostage in a ransomware attack.
This summer, the governor of Louisiana declared a state of emergency after cyberattacks happened to multiple school districts.
And as recently as Tuesday, a report detailed that ten hospitals - three in Alabama and seven in Australia - were hit with paralyzing ransomware attacks that are affecting their ability to take new patients.
"It's the modern-day organized crime," said Byron Martin, CEO of Teknologize, an IT support provider in Kennewick. "This is happening globally and it's a massive threat; every 14 seconds there's a business being attacked."
A ransomware attack is when an outside party accesses computer data and encrypts it or holds it hostage, demanding a ransom in order for the business or individual to regain access. Often, the attacker will do this by sending a legitimate-looking email, but when the unsuspecting person opens the email and clicks on a link, their data becomes encrypted. Sometimes an email isn't necessary and an attacker can access a network remotely and infect it with a ransomware virus.
More recently, attackers have been perfecting what Martin calls "the next evolution of ransomware" - ransomcloud. It's similar to ransomware but targets data that's saved in the Cloud.
"There may be a lot of businesses out there feeling like their data is safe in the Cloud," said Martin. "It's not."
These cyberattacks are effective and costly. In fact, ransomware or ransomcloud attacks are projected to cost the U.S. economy $2.1 trillion in 2019 alone.
Recent, high-profile attacks even prompted the FBI to issue a warning to U.S. businesses and organizations on Wednesday of the increasing threat posed by ransomware cyberattacks.
Martin said hackers often specifically target the health care or financial sectors, but they also go after small and medium-sized businesses, because they know they won't have the proper security measures in place.
"It's happening in Tri-Cities every week; we're getting phone calls on a regular basis saying, ‘Hey my company got ransomcloud or ransomware, can you help us?'" said Martin. "Unfortunately, it's like calling the fire department after your house has burned down."
Preventing the attacks by taking steps ahead of time is key, said Martin. To help educate the public, Teknologize is holding an upcoming workshop to discuss how people can protect themselves and their businesses.
"It's about knowing your risks and vulnerabilities so you can do something about it now," said Martin. "You don't buy life insurance after you get in a car accident."
The event is happening Tuesday at Fuse in Richland from 7:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. It's free and breakfast is included. To register for the event, click here.
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