Fax Saves the Day for Hospital in Massive Ransomware Crisis
Jun 08, 2016
When hospital staff can’t facilitate efficient communication, the health and treatment of patients can be at stake. While technology is an enabler, it can also be used to bring a hospital’s operations to a crawl. This is exactly what happened when hackers infiltrated, shut down, and held the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s IT systems to a $3.6 million ransom.
So what does a medical staff do to ensure business continuity? They adapt.
Since they couldn’t access email, the staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center used fax to send messages to one another. Departments resumed communication operations without worrying about any interference over the fax network. Though the loss of the computer system predictably brought some inconveniences, it didn’t hinder the staff’s ability to resume the bulk of their work.
Hackers have disrupted computer systems for almost as long as computers have been around – though methods have changed over time. As cyber security providers constantly strive to offer better protection to customers, hackers work just as hard at devising new ways to crack the same software.
According to a recent article in SC Magazine, hackers now commonly implement a combination of phishing emails and ransomware to achieve short-term gratification. They essentially phish by sending an innocuous email luring someone on the inside to click, then slip into your network, and hold it hostage until a ransom is paid. The same article cites a report from PhishMe stating that 93 percent of phishing emails were found containing ransomware.
When the hospital hackers infiltrated the facility’s network with their ransomware, fax came to the rescue. Many medical documents, such as patient charts, consist of unstructured data, which is where fax plays an important role. Through using a secure network, medical staff could transmit unstructured data despite their lack of access to email and other hospital systems.
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