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FBI Issues Urgent Warning About Ransomware Attacks on Hospitals

…and just in time for COVID’s second wave.

As cooler temperatures begin to arrive in the northern hemisphere, there are renewed concerns about a second wave of COVID-19 being boosted by the changing of the seasons.

Much of the nation is already seeing an increase in cases of coronavirus over the last two weeks, with the upper midwest facing some of the most harrowing upticks in the entire nation.  As folks are pushed back indoors by the less than hospitable temperatures, the virus will likely find ample victims.

As is stands today, there are several state hospital systems sounding the alarm on their diminishing capabilities and capacities, and now the FBI is warning that these same institutions are being “imminently” targeted by cyber-terrorists. 

Federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing a wave of data-scrambling extortion attempts against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems, which could hurt patient care just as nationwide cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The alert said malicious groups are targeting the sector with attacks that produce “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The cyberattacks involve ransomware, which scrambles data into gibberish that can only be unlocked with software keys provided once targets pay up. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week, and could potentially impact hundreds more.

So far in 2020, at least 510 American hospitals have been targeted by cyberattacks, with 59 individual health systems affected.

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