UMD Expert Helping Hospitals, Health Care Organizations Ward Off Other Kinds of Viruses—the Digital Kind
By Liam Farrell
David Mussington (below), professor of the practice at the UMD School of Public Policy and director of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise, identified five key points about health-care cybersecurity challenges.
There’s never a good time for a health department to be hacked, but the middle of a historic pandemic is worse than most.
That’s what happened last month in Illinois, when the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District’s website was taken hostage by “ransomware,” a cyberattack that shuts people out of their own computers by encrypting their data and demanding payment in exchange for a key.
“That’s what keeps me up at night,” said David Mussington, professor of the practice at the UMD School of Public Policy and director of the Center for Public Policy and Private Enterprise.
Mussington is now at the forefront of the effort to ensure attacks like what happened in Illinois don’t endanger the lives of patients across the world. He is part of two new groups—the international COVID-19 Cyber Threat Intelligence League and Canada’s COVID-19 Cyber Defense Force—that are bringing together hundreds of experts to share information and advise governments, hospitals and health care organizations on how to keep their networks secure in an opportunistic moment for bad actors.
It took three days and $300,000 of insurance money to regain control in Illinois and similar problems have occurred around the globe: a cyberattack forced a hospital in the Czech Republic to postpone surgeries and turn away patients; Greater Paris University Hospitals foiled an attempt to overwhelm its computer system; a foreign state reportedly tried to overload U.S. Health and Human Services Department servers; and Spain’s hospital workers were targeted by a massive email campaign seeking to install dangerous software.
Earlier this week, Microsoft announced it was making a threat notification service free to health care providers and human rights and humanitarian organizations.
“The dangers are rising very quickly,” Mussington said.
He identified five key points about health-care cybersecurity challenges with Maryland Today.
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