November 11, 2019 By David Bisson 2 min read

An academic study found that the death rate tied to cardiovascular issues increased in the months and years following healthcare cyberattacks on hospitals.

In a report available for download through the Wiley Online Library, researchers from Vanderbilt University and the University of Central Florida used a difference‐in‐differences regression to analyze the effect that healthcare cyberattacks had on the quality of medical treatment received by patients at victim medical organizations. They specifically measured “hospital quality” by analyzing the time between when patients suffering from cardiovascular issues first entered a facility and when they received an electrocardiogram. The study also tracked the mortality rate associated with acute myocardial infarctions, the medical term for heart attacks.

The researchers found that hospital quality suffered as a result of a data breach. Specifically, they found that hospital time-to-electrocardiogram increased as much as 2.7 minutes and that 30‐day acute myocardial infarction mortality grew by 0.36 percent over a three-year window following a security incident.

The Human Impact of Healthcare Cyberattacks

This study helps shed light on the types of risks that healthcare cyberattacks pose to patients. Mortality is the greatest consequence of these types of security events. Dr. Sung J. Choi, a researcher from the University of Central Florida who led the project, said in a session for the 2018 4A Data Security & Privacy conference that data breaches at medical organizations are responsible for causing 2,100 patient deaths each year, as Digital Guardian reported.

Even so, mortality isn’t the only repercussion. An Accenture survey found that a healthcare data breach on average resulted in digital criminals stealing about a quarter of affected consumers’ personal medical information. Fifty percent of those affected revealed that they then experienced medical identity theft, which subsequently cost them $2,500 out-of-pocket on top of their existing medical bills.

What Healthcare Organizations Can Do to Fight Back

Security professionals can help defend healthcare organizations against data breaches by cooperating with IT management to develop effective security measures and build incident response teams who can prevent security issues from growing into a breach. Organizations should also monitor all connected medical devices’ activity for suspicious behavior that might be indicative of an intrusion.

More from

Ransomware payouts hit all-time high, but that’s not the whole story

3 min read - Ransomware payments hit an all-time high of $1.1 billion in 2023, following a steep drop in total payouts in 2022. Some factors that may have contributed to the decline in 2022 were the Ukraine conflict, fewer victims paying ransoms and cyber group takedowns by legal authorities.In 2023, however, ransomware payouts came roaring back to set a new all-time record. During 2023, nefarious actors targeted high-profile institutions and critical infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and government agencies.Still, it’s not all roses for…

What should an AI ethics governance framework look like?

4 min read - While the race to achieve generative AI intensifies, the ethical debate surrounding the technology also continues to heat up. And the stakes keep getting higher.As per Gartner, “Organizations are responsible for ensuring that AI projects they develop, deploy or use do not have negative ethical consequences.” Meanwhile, 79% of executives say AI ethics is important to their enterprise-wide AI approach, but less than 25% have operationalized ethics governance principles.AI is also high on the list of United States government concerns.…

Hive0051 goes all in with a triple threat

13 min read - As of April 2024, IBM X-Force is tracking new waves of Russian state-sponsored Hive0051 (aka UAC-0010, Gamaredon) activity featuring new iterations of Gamma malware first observed in November 2023. These discoveries follow late October 2023 findings, detailing Hive0051's use of a novel multi-channel method of rapidly rotating C2 infrastructure (DNS Fluxing) to deliver new Gamma malware variants, facilitating more than a thousand infections in a single day. An examination of a sample of the lures associated with the ongoing activity reveals…

Topic updates

Get email updates and stay ahead of the latest threats to the security landscape, thought leadership and research.
Subscribe today