Moody's message to hospitals: Brace yourself for more ransomware attacks 

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Hospitals and health systems will continue to be the targets of ransomware attacks because of the large amounts of sensitive data they harbor and the expanded use of less secure networks stemming from the pandemic-related shift to remote work, according to a Moody's Investor Services report released May 26. 

Moody's estimates that the growing interconnectedness of healthcare delivery and technology will continue to leave the healthcare sector vulnerable to data breaches along with hospitals' extensive use of third-party software vendors for clinical and billing functions, among others. 

While there is no way to fully prevent cyberattacks, the expanding use of telehealth and remote care during the COVID-19 pandemic will also drum up additional vulnerabilities, as potentially unsecured devices will be used to access health system networks, Moody's said. 

Ransomware attacks will remain a significant problem for the healthcare industry, particularly for hospitals and health systems. Hackers are increasingly targeting hospitals assuming providers will need to restore access to patient data quickly to preserve patient confidentiality and continue providing services. 

Many cyberattacks are not publicly disclosed, so tracking the frequency of attacks is challenging. However, recent research by IT security firm VMware Carbon Black found there were 239.4 million attempted attacks on the firm's healthcare customers in 2020, a nearly 10,000 percent increase from 2019, according to Moody's.

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