For first time, cyberattack causes closure of a hospital

A cyberattack on an Illinois hospital is one of the reasons St. Margaret's Health in Spring Valley, Illinois will be be closing. Link to the NBC News article here.

Ransomware attacks — in which criminal hackers remotely cripple an organization's computers and demand an extortion payment — have plagued U.S. health care since 2016, said Allan Liska, a ransomware analyst at the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future. Data collected by Liska and his team showed at least 300 documented attacks a year on American health care facilities since 2020. This year is on pace to match that.

Spring Valley's mayor, Melanie Malooley-Thompson, said the hospital's closing means some residents will have to travel around half an hour for emergency room services and obstetrics services.

A Wall Street Journal article this week described an increase in the frequency and sophistication of North Korea's cyberattack program, which includes ransomware attacks on hospitals. Link here.

Starting two years ago, hackers linked to North Korea began infecting U.S. hospitals with ransomware—a kind of cyberattack where hackers lock up a victim company's files and demand payment for their release—to raise money, U.S. officials say.

"It seems like a modern-day pirate state," said Nick Carlsen, a former FBI analyst who works for the blockchain tracing firm TRM Labs. "They're just out there raiding."

In order to fund its nuclear and geopolitical ambitions, North Korea has trained sophisticated cyber criminals who often gain access to systems by posing as employers interested in hiring people working at target companies, or even by posing as potential employees who actually gain jobs at target companies.