It’s really out there! Beware of Ransomware

December 20, 2021  //  FOUND IN: Updates & Resources,

According to research conducted by the Ponemon Institute, survey responses were collected from nearly 600 health care organizations across the United States ranging from regional health systems to medical device manufacturers. Just over 40 percent said that they had a ransomware attack in the last two years — cyberattacks that freeze up computer systems and demand payment to unlock them.

Those attacks disrupted the facilities’ ability to care for patients. Around 70 percent of the groups facing ransomware attacks said that those disruptions led to longer hospital stays for patients and delayed tests or procedures. In addition, 36 percent said that they saw more complications from medical procedures, and 22 percent said they had increased death rates. 

Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility within Michigan Medicine. Attention to detail and reporting suspicious emails can seriously help protect our organization.

A few important tips to remember: 

  • Always report suspicious emails 
  • Use the Report Phish button in Outlook Or forward the phishing email to: ReportPhish@umich.edu  
  • Do not open unexpected email attachments 
  • Hover over the links with your mouse to check the URL destination 
  • Double check who the email is from; senders can be easily forged 

Help protect our patients, research, and day-to-day operations by staying educated and vigilant about cybersecurity threats and learning more about them. Ransomware attacks are happening across the country and it’s important for everyone in our workforce to understand the potential harm they could do.

What is ransomware? 

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users’ access until a ransom is paid to unlock it. 

How does a computer become infected with ransomware? 

Ransomware is commonly spread through phishing emails containing attachments or links that, when opened, will download malicious software.  In addition to phishing emails, ransomware can also be spread through downloading or installing items from the internet, so please be careful of websites you visit. 

Why is Ransomware effective? 

Threat actors using ransomware employ fear and panic tactics, hoping readers will click on a link or pay a ransom. Below are some examples that have been used: 

  • Your computer has been infected with a virus, click here to resolve the issue. 
  • Your computer was used to visit websites with illegal content. You must pay a$100 fine to unlock your computer.
  • Files on your computer have been encrypted.  If you want your files, you will need to pay a fee to have them unlocked. 

What is the impact of Ransomware? 

Negative consequences of Ransomware infections include: 

  • Temporary or permanent loss of sensitive or proprietary information 
  • Disruption to regular operations 
  • Financial losses incurred to restore systems and files 
  • Potential harm to an organization’s reputation 

What do I do if I receive a Ransomware threat? 

Immediately contact the HITS Service Desk at 734-936-8000 

How are devices protected? 

  • Keep operating systems, software, and applications current and up to date. 
  • Make sure antivirus and anti-malware software are set to automatically update and run regular scans. 
  • Back up your data on a regular basis and ensure the back-ups were successfully completed.  Whenever possible, it’s a good idea to test the back-ups to ensure they are running as expected. 
  • Ensure your back-up location is separate from the computer being backed-up – only keep the two connected when a back-up or restore is needed. 

Additional Resources 

Michigan Medicine Information Assurance Educational Resources / safecomputing.umich.edu 

Phishing & Suspicious Email / safecomputing.umich.edu 

Ransomware: Don’t Pay the Ransom! / safecomputing.umich.edu 

Email ia-edawareness@umich.com to see how we can help you increase awareness for your team. 

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