When hearing the word “hacker” most people think of banks or nuclear launch codes, but the medical field can be a huge target for cyber attacks. When it comes to vulnerabilities, outdated imaging equipment and cloud collaboration are the biggest issue. These hackers that target medical information are referred to as “medjackers” and they can earn more than 10 times the going rate for stolen credit card numbers.

This becomes even more profitable with the introduction of Ransomware. Ransomware is a type of hacking where the intruder simply puts a wall between you and your information then demands payment for the removal of this wall, effectively holding your information for ransom. Threats like these come from what’s referred to as “spear phishing” where a person in a secured network opens an email from an outsider posing as a known person.

Now all of this sounds big and scary, so how can those in the radiological field protect against these targeted attacks? There are five steps for reducing cyber risk:

1. Identify assets and risks

2. Protect against phishing by training staff

3. Monitor assets closely and continuously

4. Create response protocols to mitigate effects

5. Create response protocols to recover

The good news is that many holes in radiological defense can be plugged by keeping up with software and hardware updates, and ransomware can be kept at bay by firewalls that screen for malicious IP addresses. At NightHawk Radiology, we utilize cutting edge VPN technology and top of the line encryption software to keep your information safe. All in all, there’s always risk but the best way to cope is to plan for the worst and hope for the best.

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