Health system ransomware attacks nearly doubled in '23

Health systems experienced 46 ransomware attacks in 2023, up from 25 in 2022 and 27 in 2021, as hackers continue to bedevil the industry, cybersecurity firm Emsisoft reported.

Those attacks touched 141 U.S. hospitals with data being stolen in 32 of 46 of the ransomware events, according to the Jan. 2 report. Of note was the November hack of Ardent Health Services, a 30-hospital system based in Nashville, Tenn., which caused ambulances to be diverted across multiple states.

"Delayed requisitions and tests, inaccessible electronic health records, and mistakes related to manual record keeping can also negatively impact medical outcomes," the report noted. "Patients may die or be left with permanent disabilities that could have been avoided with speedier treatment."

The report's authors called for governments to ban ransom payments. Globally, organizations paid ransomware hackers $449 million in the first half of 2023 alone, the majority of it believed to be from the U.S.

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