Wednesday, March 04, 2020

Rural hospitals and governments are vulnerable to ransomware and hackers, but can easily protect themselves

Small-town governments and agencies are increasingly getting hit with cyberattacks in which hackers get into their computer systems, encrypt data and demand a ransom to unlock it. Rural governments often have older systems and less tech-savvy workers, so hackers see them as easier targets, and rural hospitals and clinics are considered highly vulnerable, Brian Tumulty reports for The Bond Buyer. Click here for a cybersecurity toolkit for rural hospitals and clinics.

Lake County, Fla. in Columbia
County (Wikipedia map)
State and local governments suffered at least 113 successful ransomware attacks in 2019, notes Jenni Bergal of internet technology publication GCN. One was Lake City, Fla., pop. 12,046. Hackers locked the city's computers for several weeks last June and demanded $750,000 in bitcoin. The city tried to recover the data, but failed. Its insurance company negotiated with the hackers and got the ransom down to $470,000, Bergal reports. The city had a $10,000 deductible on its insurance policy.

Small governments, hospitals and utilities can easily improve their cybersecurity, Andrea Noble reports for Route Fifty: "Cybersecurity experts shared tips on how local governments could apply the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework to their networks on Friday at a panel discussion at the National Association of Counties legislative conference in Washington, D.C."

The NIST framework is a voluntary guide for businesses, organizations and governments to better protect infrastructure and manage cybersecurity risks. It includes easy-to-implement tenets such as using secure passwords and training staff to look out for possible phishing schemes, Noble reports.

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