Wyoming hospitals hit by cyberattacks almost daily, state hospital association says

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

As cyberattacks on healthcare organizations increase across the country, hospitals in Wyoming are dealing with malware attacks "weekly, if not daily," according to a Dec. 12 Casper Star Tribune report. 

Hackers target health systems to gain control of electronic health records that contain personal information about large groups of people. Between 2018 and 2019, attempted malware attacks against U.S. health systems grew 20 percent and affected the medical records of 38 million patients, according to a PBS study.

In Wyoming, hospitals are hit with malware attacks almost daily, Eric Boley, head of the Wyoming Hospital Association, told the Star Tribune. Some hospitals have spent millions in the wake of cyberattacks, such as Gillette, Wyo.-based Campbell County Health. The health system suspended new patient admissions and canceled some surgeries Sept. 20 after a ransomware attack. Its systems were down 17 days, but it did not pay the ransom. Instead, the health system was able to recreate medical records, Mr. Boley said. The ordeal cost millions in lost revenue, insurance claims and infrastructure. 

Cheyenne (Wyo.) Regional Medical Center and Casper's Wyoming Medical Center, the state's largest hospital with 249 beds on two campuses, were also targets of cyberattacks in recent years, Mr. Boley said.

Cheyenne Regional was hit in early spring by a phishing scam that left some patients' personal information compromised, and Casper Wyoming's systems were infected with malware in November 2018. No patient data was compromised in the Casper Wyoming breach, a hospital spokesperson told the Star Tribune

To get ahead of cybersecurity threats, the hospital association has been offering training and guidance to hospitals that focuses on general security and firewall protection. 

But when it comes to getting hacked, "everyone's pretty much aware that it's not if, it's when it's going to happen,"  Mr. Boley said. 

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