Local hospitals always preparing for cyber attack

Experts at Gundersen always fighting an evolving cyber threat

A hospital in California was recently forced to pay a ransom following a cyber attack that locked officials out of their medical files for nearly two weeks.

Attacks like the one on the hospital in California are often called “Ransomware,” where hackers will hold on to a company or organization’s data until a ransom is paid.

With technology always evolving, computer experts at our hospitals said they must stay on top of their game to keep your data and other important information safe.

Linda Seubert runs what could be called the cyber police at Gundersen Health System.

“Working to make sure we do our due diligence with any kinds of security issues relating to our patient data, our financial data, our organizational data,” said Seubert.

She said hackers on the black market want medical data for a number of reasons.

“They’ll file claims on your insurance, false claims,” said Seubert. “They’ll try and take prescriptions out using your information.”

Seubert said cyber security has evolved in a very short time.

“Two years ago, we were fighting on a daily and weekly basis,” said Seubert. “If a virus was brought in to the environment, we were in a reactive state trying to shut it down.”

But In the last 18 months, hospitals like Gundersen have developed a new approach to fight hackers.

“Now we are in a more proactive state,” said Seubert. “We can tell if something odd is going on, our systems now automatically block what it considers as vulnerabilities, so we can look and say, ‘That’s alright,’ or, ‘Nope, this one we have to do some more checking into.'”

Seubert said education with staff is also important.

“We give them tidbits, not only for how to secure their health care information here of their patients, and of themselves, but how to secure their own systems at home,” said Seubert.

With attacks always evolving, experts said the problem isn’t going away.

“In the last three years, it has become the number one concern to all health care organizations,” said Seubert.

Experts said Gundersen always has contingency plans if something were to happen with data, with the intention of always staying operational if any data breach were to happen.

Mayo Clinic Health System also sent a statement reading, “At Mayo Clinic, we are committed to protecting patients and their data. We continuously monitor our approach in the face of nearly continuous cyber attacks that we and other organizations encounter daily.”