FTC announces upcoming ransomware event

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Ransomware may have made its nightmarish debut into the healthcare sphere less than a year ago, but sectors like finance and the federal government have been wary of its dark potential for far longer. In light of the growing threat, the Federal Trade Commission is planning an informational workshop about ransomware for Sept. 7 in Washington, D.C.

"With alarming frequency, ransomware hackers are sneaking into consumer and business computers, encrypting files containing photos, documents and other important data, and then demanding a ransom in exchange for the key needed to decrypt the files," an FTC announcement reads. "At times, these hackers pose as the FBI or other law enforcement officials and claim that the ransom is a 'fine' for viewing illegal material and that failure to pay the 'fine' will result in criminal prosecution."

Types of ransomware are also evolving, with new iterations having the potential to reach beyond a network, like a hospital's EHR, for example, and infect all of the mobile devices attached to it. Thus far, no causal link has been established between a ransomware incident at a hospital and an impact on patient care, but it stands to reason that locking physicians and staff out of the systems that have the most up-to-date information necessary to ensure patient safety will result in patient harm at some point, if it hasn't happened yet.

The workshop will address the following, according to the FTC:

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