Cybersecurity agency warns of 'imminent, increased cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers"

On Wednesday night less than one week before the election, as COVID-19 cases spike throughout the United States, the nation's cybersecurity agency says: "there is an imminent and increased cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers."

Here's the tweet tonight from CISA, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency:

So far, Universal Health Services, a hospital health care service company based in Pennsylvania; St. Lawrence Health Systems in New York; and the Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon all confirmed to CNN that they were targeted over the past few days.

Excerpt from CNN:

Several hospitals across the United States have been targeted in ransomware attacks in what appears to be an escalation and expansion of similar attacks previously launched on other hospitals and medical facilities.The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a warning advisory Wednesday night regarding ransomware activity targeting health care facilities. (…)

A Trump administration official told CNN that some hospitals have already been affected.Ransomware is a type of malware, or malicious software, that encrypts a victim's files. The attacker then typically demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data upon payment. Users are often shown instructions for how to pay a fee to get the decryption key. The costs can range from a few hundred dollars to thousands, often payable to cybercriminals in Bitcoin.

Ransomware and other cyber attacks have seen a sharp rise this year, and hospitals have been particularly vulnerable since the start of the global pandemic. Since July, hospitals in states including New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan have all been attacked by some form of ransomware. A Trump administration official told CNN that several hospitals have been targeted in the attacks over the past two days, and while it's still early, the official said the incidents may be connected. The federal government is investigating the attacks, the official said.

Read more at CNN: Several hospitals targeted in new wave of ransomware attacks