We recently told you about the major data breach at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles. The hospital was targeted by hackers who installed ransomware within its system, and held patient records hostage until they received financial compensation.
This event was an eye-opening experience. But, a recent report determined that we have a bigger issue to solve.
The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center is not the only hospital with major cybersecurity flaws. As it turns out, researchers suspect that a large majority of area hospitals are riddled with problems.
A group of Baltimore-based researchers spent two years studying this by hacking into the systems of local hospitals. To do this, the team merely entered the hospital's lobby and used one of the provided kiosks. From there, they found that they could take control of patients' monitors, disable the hospital's alarms and even tamper with bloodwork requests.
Fortunately, these researchers did not have malicious motives in mind. They were simply working to prove a point - to show that these unprotected networks were in serious risk. The firm was even upfront, working closely with each hospital's management team beforehand, and then reporting their findings.
Based on the group's findings, it was determined that focusing on the cybersecurity of patient records was not enough. In the hands of the wrong person, access to these critical systems could actually put patient lives at risk. And, while the focus has always been on record privacy, more needs to be done to protect every aspect of the system.
Ashley Thompson of the American Hospital Association called the rise of cyberattacks a "growing concern."
Currently, there is no evidence that suggests an attack of this nature has been carried out. But, this research certainly proves that it's possible.
As we learned in the case of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, hospitals are vulnerable targets.
Steve Bono, one of the lead researchers on the project, explained that he's not hoping to sound an alarm or put people on edge. Instead, he merely hopes to bring awareness to the issue so that hospitals will take precautionary steps.