Ransomware Linked to Higher Patient Mortality: Survey

COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in less confidence among providers in mitigating risks posed by ransomware

By Dan Hounsell, Senior Editor
September 29, 2021

Nearly one-quarter of providers say their organizations saw an increase in mortality rates following a ransomware attack, according to a new survey from the Ponemon Institute. The study, sponsored by Boston-based health data security company Censinet, also found that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in less confidence among providers in mitigating risks posed by ransomware.

Of the organizations surveyed, 61 percent have been victims of ransomware attacks, and of those that have been hit, 33 percent have been hit more than once. In addition, 61 percent of providers aren't confident in their ability to combat ransomware, up from 55 percent pre-COVID-19.

Ponemon Institute, a research center dedicated to privacy, data protection, and information security policy, surveyed 597 IT and IT security professionals to understand the impact of COVID-19 on the way healthcare delivery organizations protect patient care and patient information from increasing virulent cyberattacks, especially ransomware.

Research shows that ransomware attacks on healthcare organizations might have life-or-death consequences. Nearly one in four healthcare providers reported an increase in mortality rate due to ransomware. The onset of COVID-19 introduced new risk factors to healthcare organizations, including remote work, new systems to support it, staffing challenges, and elevated patient care requirements.

The report highlights these impacts of ransomware on patient care:

  • Increase in mortality rate
  • More complications from medical procedures
  • Delays in procedures and tests that resulted in poor outcomes
  • Increase in patients transferred or diverted to other facilities
  • Longer stays.

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Topic Area: Information Technology

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