Data security and protecting valuable information is the new Wild West. There is a constant battle between trying to protect data and criminals intent on stealing or hacking data. In a story that broke yesterday, Russian cyber criminals have hacked into a medical organization and held their patient information ransom.
The Australian medical center, Miami Family Medical Centre, reported that hackers broke into their network and encrypted their EMR. The EMR has patient records from the last 7 years. The hackers are demanding a $4,000 ransom to decrypt the EMR. The EMR system cannot be accessed until the hackers decrypt the system.
David Wood, co-owner of the Miami Family Medical Centre, says they thought they had a good system in place.
“We’ve got all the antivirus stuff in place – there’s no sign of a virus. They literally got in, hijacked the server and then ran their encryption software,” he said.
“It’s people who know how to break in past firewalls and hack passwords to get onto the server.”
He has reassured patients that the data has not been stolen.
“It’s secure in the sense that no-one’s taken any of it,” he said.
“We’re trying to work out how to pay the hackers or find someone to decrypt the information.”
This story underscores the importance of ensuring that your network is properly protected. In addition, nightly backups of data are essential to ensure that you can recover if your system is penetrated and any form of encryption or destruction occurs to your EMR.
The first line of defense is to ensure that hackers are kept out of your network. The use of firewalls and complex passwords are key to protecting your data. The second line of defense is to ensure that you have timely backups of your data. If your EMR is encrypted by hackers, you should be able to restore your data from your nightly backup.
Without the proper safeguards you could be at the mercy of cyber criminals who’s intentions are extorting payment to release your data.