A cyberattack has disrupted computer systems in several states at hospitals and clinics run by Prospect Medical Holdings. The attack forced some emergency rooms to shut down and ambulances to be diverted. Many primary care services remained closed on Friday as security experts worked to determine the extent of the problem and resolve it.
Cyberattack Against Prospect Medical Holdings Facilities
According to AP News:
- The FBI is investigating the attack but has not confirmed whether it was ransomware.
- The attack affected hospitals and clinics in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Texas.
- As a result of the attack, elective surgeries, outpatient appointments, blood drives, and other services were suspended.
- Patients were being contacted individually and asked to use paper records until the situation is resolved.
- The healthcare industry was the hardest hit by cyberattacks in the year ending in March, according to IBM.
- Healthcare providers are a common target for criminal extortionists because they have so much sensitive patient data.
- Hospitals have been working to implement better safeguards and more backup systems to prevent such attacks and respond to them when they occur.
- However, it is almost impossible to make them completely safe, especially because the systems need to rely on the Internet and network-connected technologies to share patient information among clinicians involved in a patient's care. 
Evidence-Based Prevention Methods
- Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. This is one of the most basic but effective ways to protect your computer systems from unauthorized access. Strong passwords should be at least 12 characters long and include a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Multi-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security by requiring users to enter a code from their phone in addition to their password.
- Keep your software up to date. Software updates often include security patches that can help to protect your systems from vulnerabilities. Make sure to install software updates as soon as they are available.
- Educate your employees about cybersecurity risks. Employees are often the weakest link in a company's cybersecurity defenses. Ensure to educate your employees about the risks of cyberattacks and how to protect themselves. This includes training them on how to spot phishing emails, create strong passwords, and use multi-factor authentication.
- Have a plan in place for responding to a cyberattack. If your organization is attacked, it is important to have a plan in place for responding. This plan should include steps for isolating the affected systems, restoring data, and notifying affected individuals.
- Use a firewall and antivirus software. A firewall can help to prevent unauthorized access to your computer systems, and antivirus software can help to protect your systems from malware.
- Back up your data regularly. If your systems are attacked, it is important to have a data backup to restore it if necessary.
- Use a cloud-based email service that offers spam and malware protection.
- Use a VPN when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
- Be careful about what information you share on social media.
- Restrict access to sensitive data to authorized personnel only.
- Monitor your network for suspicious activity.
- Have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place.
How an MSP Could Have Prevented This Attack
- MSPs have the expertise and experience to help organizations identify and mitigate cybersecurity risks. They can conduct regular security assessments to identify vulnerabilities in an organization's systems and recommend solutions to address them.
- MSPs can help organizations implement and maintain security best practices. This includes things like using strong passwords and multi-factor authentication, keeping software up to date, and educating employees about cybersecurity risks.
- MSPs can provide 24/7 monitoring and support for an organization's IT systems. This can help to detect and respond to cyberattacks quickly, minimizing the damage that they can cause.
- MSPs can help organizations recover from cyberattacks. They can provide assistance with restoring data, cleaning infected systems, and communicating with affected individuals.
In the case of the Prospect Medical Holdings cyberattack, an MSP could have helped to prevent the attack by identifying and mitigating the exploited vulnerabilities. The MSP could also have helped the organization respond to the attack more quickly and effectively, minimizing the disruption to patient care.
- Cost savings. MSPs can often provide cybersecurity services at a lower cost than an organization can provide them in-house.
- Peace of mind. Knowing that an MSP is taking care of your cybersecurity can give you peace of mind, so you can focus on running your business.
- Compliance. MSPs can help organizations to comply with industry regulations, such as HIPAA.
- A cyberattack has disrupted hospitals and health care in several states. (2023, August 4). AP News. https://apnews.com/article/cyberattack-hospital-emergency-outage-4c808c1dad8686458ecbeababd08fecf
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. (2014). Top 10 tips for cybersecurity in health care. https://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/Top_10_Tips_for_Cybersecurity.pdf
- Pino, L. (2022, February 28). Improving the Cybersecurity Posture of Healthcare in 2022. HHS.gov. https://www.hhs.gov/blog/2022/02/28/improving-cybersecurity-posture-healthcare-2022.html
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