Ransomware by the Numbers: Bigger, Bolder, Bleaker

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"The Increasing Threat of Ransomware in Healthcare," in the December issue of The O&P EDGE, addresses a pervasive cybersecurity issue in healthcare that's fueled by the sensitive information held in electronic medical records and fanned by the need for care providers to be able to access this data. This Online Exclusive provides information about the nature of this threat.

Ransomware is a type of computer malware that is installed on a system by a user unwittingly downloading an infected file or through a vulnerability in the security. All or some of the data on the computer is kidnapped-either blocked or encrypted-by that malware and a ransom is demanded in return for the data's restoration. While not a new threat, ransomware is becoming increasingly common. The numbers are staggering.

  • 100: The number of new ransomware "families" that were created in 2015, leading to a proliferation of variants that are also becoming more sophisticated, per the technology company Symantec
  • 4,000/1,000: The number of daily ransomware attacks during the first half of 2016 compared to the number of daily attacks the prior year, as stated in a U.S. government interagency report
  • 200 million: First quarter 2016 losses in dollars due to ransomware attacks, per the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and as reported by Reuters
  • 60: The percentage of small companies that went out of business six months after suffering a cyberattack, including ransomware
  • 88: The percentage of all ransomware attacks in the second quarter of 2016 that occurred in the healthcare industry, according to security company Solutionary