Radware’s ERT and Threat Research Center monitored an immense number of events over the last year, giving us a chance to review and analyze attack patterns to gain further insight into today’s trends and changes in the attack landscape. Here are some insights into what we have observed over the last year.
Healthcare Under Attack
Over the last decade there has been a dramatic digital transformation within healthcare; more facilities are relying on electronic forms and online processes to help improve and streamline the patient experience. As a result, the medical industry has new responsibilities and priorities to ensure client data is kept secure and available–which unfortunately aren’t always kept up with.
This year, the healthcare industry dominated news with an ever-growing list of breaches and attacks. Aetna, CarePlus, Partners Healthcare, BJC Healthcare, St. Peter’s Surgery and Endoscopy Center, ATI Physical Therapy, Inogen, UnityPoint Health, Nuance Communication, LifeBridge Health, Aultman Health Foundation, Med Associates and more recently Nashville Metro Public Health, UMC Physicians, and LabCorp Diagnostics have all disclosed or settled major breaches.
Generally speaking, the risk of falling prey to data breaches is high, due to password sharing, outdated and unpatched software, or exposed and vulnerable servers. When you look at medical facilities in particular, other risks begin to appear, like those surrounding the number of hospital employees who have full or partial access to your health records during your stay there. The possibilities for a malicious insider or abuse of access is also very high, as is the risk of third party breaches. For example, it was recently disclosed that NHS patient records may have been exposed when passwords were stolen from Embrace Learning, a training business used by healthcare workers to learn about data protection.
Profiting From Medical Data
These recent cyber-attacks targeting the healthcare industry underscore the growing threat to hospitals, medical institutions and insurance companies around the world. So, what’s driving the trend? Profit. Personal data, specifically healthcare records, are in demand and quite valuable on today’s black market, often fetching more money per record than your financial records, and are a crucial part of today’s Fullz packages sold by cyber criminals.
Not only are criminals exfiltrating patient data and selling it for a profit, but others have opted to encrypt medical records with ransomware or hold the data hostage until their extortion demand is met. Often hospitals are quick to pay an extortionist because backups are non-existent, or it may take too long to restore services. Because of this, cyber-criminals have a focus on this industry.
Most of the attacks targeting the medical industry are ransomware attacks, often delivered via phishing campaigns. There have also been cases where ransomware and malware have been delivered via drive-by downloads and comprised third party vendors. We have also seen criminals use SQL injections to steal data from medical applications as well as flooding those networks with DDoS attacks. More recently, we have seen large scale scanning and exploitation of internet connected devices for the purpose of crypto mining, some of which have been located inside medical networks. In addition to causing outages and encrypting data, these attacks have resulted in canceling elective cases, diverting incoming patients and rescheduling surgeries.
For-profit hackers will target and launch a number of different attacks against medical networks designed to obtain and steal your personal information from vulnerable or exposed databases. They are looking for a complete or partial set of information such as name, date of birth, Social Security numbers, diagnosis or treatment information, Medicare or Medicaid identification number, medical record number, billing/claims information, health insurance information, disability code, birth or marriage certificate information, Employer Identification Number, driver’s license numbers, passport information, banking or financial account numbers, and usernames and passwords so they can resell that information for a profit.
Sometimes the data obtained by the criminal is incomplete, but that data can be leveraged as a stepping stone to gather additional information. Criminals can use partial information to create a spear-phishing kit designed to gain your trust by citing a piece of personal information as bait. And they’ll move very quickly once they gain access to PHI or payment information. Criminals will normally sell the information obtained, even if incomplete, in bulk or in packages on private forums to other criminals who have the ability to complete the Fullz package or quickly cash the accounts out. Stolen data will also find its way to public auctions and marketplaces on the dark net, where sellers try to get the highest price possible for data or gain attention and notoriety for the hack.
Don’t let healthcare data slip through the cracks; be prepared.
Read “Radware’s 2018 Web Application Security Report” to learn more.
Daniel Smith is an information security researcher for Radware’s Emergency Response Team. He focuses on security research and risk analysis for network and application based vulnerabilities. Daniel’s research focuses in on Denial-of-Service attacks and includes analysis of malware and botnets. As a white-hat hacker, his expertise in tools and techniques helps Radware develop signatures and mitigation attacks proactively for its customers.