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Cybercriminals Focusing On Small Healthcare Providers in 2018

By Special Guest
Evan Kirstel, Chief Digital Evangelist and Cofounder, EviraHealth
February 07, 2018

Healthcare providers have become an easy target for cybercriminals in 2018.

With the increased implementation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices in healthcare, it has become simpler for cybercriminals to do damage. The 2017 Health Care Cyber Research Report stated 140 hacking events took place in 2017 and the number had risen 27% since 2016. Based on ongoing research, 2018 is going to see a continual rise in these cyber attacks because of potential vulnerabilities in the current setup.

The report also revealed the reason for these attacks on healthcare providers. It had to do with the use of ransomware as over 89% of all cases involved this type of attack on healthcare devices. For example, the six biggest healthcare-related cyber attacks were ransomware events. This has made it a pointed concern for lead officials who are investigating the issues and looking to close potential gaps in the system.

New Targets For Cybercriminals
2018 is going to be the year of low-hanging fruit for cybercriminals as the healthcare organizations with more resources tighten things up.

In 2016-2017, cybercriminals set their sights on the big players in healthcare such as Anthem, Banner Health, and Premera Blue Cross to name a few. However, those targets have become harder to penetrate and have set up significant defences to ensure cybercriminals are kept out. Instead, cybercriminals are looking to go after smaller healthcare providers who might not have the means to thwart vicious attacks on their IoT devices.

Why are they willing to go after smaller healthcare providers?
It has a lot to do with the lowered costs of building or managing ransomware. In the past, cyber criminals often resorted to going after the top players because it was cost-efficient for them, with larger return on effort/time. However, with ongoing development in ransomware technology, it has become easier to manage the hacks and get value out of going after the smaller industry players.

Who are the new targets going to be?
The new targets are going to include a varied set of smaller institutions such as diagnostic laboratories, operating rooms, surgical centers, and even an average physician practice in your hometown.

Since these healthcare providers are using IoT devices to improve care and efficiency of their businesses, it has become easier to use ransomware to get through the front door. Cybercriminals see this as an opportunity to get what they are looking for without having to fight the improved defenses of the leading healthcare providers.

What are cybercriminals looking for?
Cybercriminals are looking to make money, they seek medical records and other personal and sensitive information as a means to extort money. If they get their hands on this information, they can put up a demand for ransom payments.

Experts believe small healthcare providers will have to stay vigilant and continue to report potential attacks to help ongoing investigations on cybercrime. These attacks will increase with time and it's essential that healthcare sector players of any size pay attention.

About the author: Evan Kirstel is a B2B tech influencer with 200K Twitter, 25K LinkedIn and 140K Instagram followers and he is an expert in growing social audience and leveraging social media as a B2B sales networking, lead generation and thought leadership tool. He is currently building an influencer network of fellow B2B thought leaders to help brands achieve massive visibility and scale across the social media landscape in areas like Mobile, Blockchain, Cloud, 5G, and IoT.  Visit and for more. 

Editor's note: This article originally appeared on LinkedIn

Edited by Ken Briodagh

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