Healthcare faces uncertainties with new ransomware strain

By Catherine Sturman
A new strain of ransomware is set to cause increased concerns within the healthcare sector. Named ‘Defray’, users fall foul to the virus through ope...

A new strain of ransomware is set to cause increased concerns within the healthcare sector. Named ‘Defray’, users fall foul to the virus through opening Microsoft Word documents, with attachments which unleash the virus when opened. Virtually undetectable, as the document is personalised to look authentic, it highlights the lengths in which technology is becoming not only more sophisticated, but the need for increased cybersecurity across the board.

Discovered by cybersecurity company Proofpoint, the virus is disguised as an attachment, named ‘Patient Report’. Its look is authentic, with a professional looking logo, which is able to deceive the majority of users who come across this new virus.

The UK has been hit by a number of cybersecurity attacks in the last year, which have all had the potential to impact on the delivery of patient care with the shutdown of essential services.

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The WannaCry ransomware attack affected a large number of countries, alongside the Petya virus which affected healthcare services globally.

All cybersecurity attacks have resulted in a large bitcoin ransom in order for the virus to be stopped, with several email addresses in order for the user to ask any potential questions they may have. Such increases in potential cyber hacks have therefore led to hospitals increasing their cybersecurity budgets in order to protect patient data and the ongoing delivery of patient services.

In a blog post, Proofpoint have stated that the ransomware only looks like it will be utilised in singular attacks, as the technology is personalised to fit the potential user., and is “not for sale, either as a service or as a licensed application.”


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