Why You Should Be Worried About Cyber Criminals

…cyber criminals hit a hospital in Düsseldorf, Germany, with so-called ransomware, in which hackers encrypt data and hold it hostage until the victim pays a ransom. The ransomware invaded 30 servers at University Hospital Düsseldorf [Sept 10, 2019], crashing systems and forcing the hospital to turn away emergency patients. As a result, German authorities said, a woman in a life-threatening condition was sent to a hospital 20 miles away in Wuppertal and died from treatment delays

Cyber-crime can also halt health care. The San Diego Union-Tribune reporters Greg Moran and Paul Sisson wrote2:

A ransomware attack on Scripps Health’s computer network over the [first May 2021] weekend significantly disrupted care, forcing the giant healthcare provider to… postpone appointments set for Monday and divert some critical care patients to other hospitals… Electronic medical records were said to be down, forcing medical personnel to use paper records… also affecting ‘telemetry at most sites.’… The incident was serious enough to put all four Scripps hospitals in Encinitas, La Jolla, San Diego and Chula Vista on emergency bypass for stroke and heart attack patients, … Hospitals have become perennial targets of such high-tech heists.

Even before the pandemic, a record 764 American health care providers were hit by ransomware.1 Clinicians may wonder how they could possibly be accomplices to such disasters. The answer is clicking a link. Yes, just clicking a link in an email or a web page, which seems like an innocuous thing to do, can do damage. It is the internet equivalent of leaving the keys in your car with the engine running.

Clicking web links was never meant to be dangerous, but over time, technology changed; however, our thinking has not changed. Here are some of the twists and turns on a long, unplanned trip.

The Road to Cyber Mortality

Back in July 1945, The Atlantic Monthly published “As We May Think” by Vannevar Bush, PhD.3 World War II was ending, and Bush was Dean of Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the war, he served as Director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development. By summer 1945, Bush already had a good idea how…