Ex Crypto Ransom Victim Now Teaches Others How to Prevent Such Attacks

In a classic case of trying to make the best out of a bad situation, Steve Long, the CEO of Hancock Health is on a mission to help others in the healthcare industry protect themselves from the cyberattacks. Computer systems all over the world are in a constant battle with hackers seeking to gain unauthorized access to their systems. In recent years, cyberattacks have become a clear and present danger to the health industry. This is due to the treasure-trove of information held by healthcare firms that are of great value on the black market.
With the emergence of Bitcoin and cryptos in general, it has become common practice for hackers to hijack a healthcare system and demand a ransom to be paid in Bitcoin or other cryptos. Crypto ransomware attacks took on a whole new dimension and caught the world’s consciousness in 2017 when the WannaCry ransomware affected a number of high profile organizations around the world including the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS). In January 2018, a similar type of attack occurred within the Hancock Health Computer system.

Details of the Attack

An unidentified group of hackers was able to obtain the login credentials of one of the hospital’s vendors. This then gave the hackers access to the computer system where they planted the malware and demanded a ransom. According to Long, they were not ignorant of the fact that cyberattacks had become rampant in the health sector. In fact, there have been more cyberattacks targeted at the health sector than any other industry the world, according to Chubb, an insurance firm that specializes in property and casualty. With the safety of his patients’ records in mind, Long acquiesced to paying the hackers the sum of 3 Bitcoin which amounted to about $55,000 at the time.

Making a Positive Impact from Lessons Learned

Having been a victim of a cyberattack, Long has been able to pick up a few valuable lessons and has committed himself to trying to help others avoid such a situation. Long has gone on to hold a number of talks with healthcare groups, IT organizations, and other stakeholders on the best preventive measures against cyberattacks. He has become a noted spokesperson on the topic and plans to hold even more talks over the coming summer. Long tries to educate healthcare bodies to put the safety of the patients’ as their major priority in the event of such a scenario.

Steve Long also admonishes healthcare groups to realize that it isn’t just enough to high-tech security systems. According to him, even if the organization has the best security technology, hackers can still find ways to breach. According to Ron Pelletier, the co-founder of Pondurance, the IT firm that was contracted by Hancock Health in the aftermath of the attack, organizations cannot rely on technology alone. This is due to the fact that technology can be circumvented over time and that human intervention remains an integral part of any security protocol.

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