News Feature | April 3, 2017

Cybersecurity Report Shows 320% Increase In Hacking Attacks In 2016

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Field Service Report

Ransomware is now a prominent threat to hospitals.

Last year saw a 320 percent increase in hacking attacks for healthcare organizations according to Redspin’s seventh annual cybersecurity report, Breach Report 2016: Protected Health Information (PHI). The report, commissioned to provide in-depth analysis of the causes of reported PHI breaches and assesses the overall state of cybersecurity in healthcare, further notes ransomware has been identified as a prominent threat to hospitals.

The report also found:

  • 81 percent of records breached in 2016 resulted from hacking attacks specifically
  • 325 large breaches of PHI, compromising 16,612,985 individual patient records
  • 3,620,000 breached patient records in the year’s single largest incident
  • 40 percent of large breach incidents involved unauthorized access/disclosure

2016 saw the first ransomware attack on a U.S. hospital, as well as an escalation in that particular type of cyber-attack. And while several major healthcare organizations were the targets of hackers in 2016, the majority of incidents actually occurred at smaller clinics. As Health It Outcomes reported, an HIMSS Analytics poll found more than half of healthcare organizations had been the target of ransomware attacks in the last 12 months, and up to 75 percent have been affected by this brand of cyberattacks.

The Redspin report also includes a summary of HIPAA enforcement activities announced in 2016 and concludes with recommendations for strengthening privacy and security controls at healthcare organizations. “Healthcare providers have become the primary targets of malicious hackers, and their attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and disruptive to operations,” said Dan Berger, Vice President at CynergisTek. “The dramatic increase in hacking attacks in 2016, coupled with the large number of patient records compromised in those incidents, points to a pressing need for providers to take a much more proactive and comprehensive approach to protecting their information assets in 2017 and beyond.”