Cyber hackers are attacking Czech hospitals with out of date security systems, encrypting their data and then demanding ransoms from the hospitals. The most recent incident is being reported by Irozhlas.

According to cybersecurity experts from Check Point, not all details of the attack are known yet but they have detected ransomware that may be used for some sort of extortion.

“At the end of last week, one medical facility was compromised. There’s ransomware, and there’s a risk that the attackers will end up demanding a ransom for the data. We also know it’s affected some of the information systems. The audit report is not clear yet, so we don’t have all the details available to us,” said Pavel Řezníček. 

These types of hacking attacks have been happening to hospitals for a while now, and Check Point included the phenomenon in their annual report from 2019. However, the firm says that in the last 2 months, the attacks have intensified. In Central Europe, they’ve become 145% more frequent.

Hackers like picking hospitals as their victims because of the sensitive patient data that, if lost, could collapse the facilities and endanger lives, which means hospitals are more likely to pay a ransom. 

Thankfully, in the Czech Republic, there are no known cases where a hospital has actually followed through and paid the ransom, but they still end up losing money from shutting everything down to deal with it. 

In 2019, a hospital in Benešov had to shut down for weeks while investigators recovered the lost data, costing roughly CZK 60 million. Similar attacks have happened in Brno and Ostrava.

“It’s really hard for smaller hospitals because they can’t raise money to improve their patient services at all. And of course, their budgets don’t focus on cybersecurity,” Řezníček from Check Point said.

Featured image by Jaroslav A. Polák via Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 3.0