Cyberattacks Wreaking Havoc on Healthcare Systems, Putting Lives at Risk


Cyberattacks are not only wreaking havoc on businesses worldwide, but they’re also having devastating consequences for people’s lives. “Hackers want to go attack folks who are going to pay,” said cybersecurity expert David Malicoat. “They want that money as quickly as possible.”

One recent case involved a Michigan woman who died after a cyberattack targeted the system reporting her lab results. A nurse in Kansas nearly gave the wrong dose of a drug to a baby in neonatal intensive care due to confusing paperwork caused by an attack on Ascension, a Catholic health care system operating over 140 facilities nationwide.

Hospitals are aware that if they’re attacked, they have only minutes or hours to get their systems back online, Malicoat said. While private and government groups often successfully stop most cyberattacks, Malicoat compared it to being a hockey goalie, where even the best goalies allow a few shots to get through. “In cybersecurity, those that get by, those are the hacks. All those attackers have to be is right one time, and they get through.”

In London, several hospitals were crippled by a ransomware attack on the blood testing service Synnovis, which may have to destroy thousands of blood test samples due to the inability to connect to electronic health records. Traditional ransomware attacks are still costing healthcare systems millions, with Change Healthcare, a subsidiary of UnitedHealth Group, recently paying a $22 million ransom after hackers froze large parts of its payment and claims processing systems.

Rich Johnson
Rich Johnson
Digital Content Producer.

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