This week, the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) published a January 2018 newsletter focusing on “cyber extortion.” Cyber extortion often involves an attacker gaining access to an organization’s computer system, stealing sensitive information, and threatening to publish the information. Healthcare and public health organizations are often the targets of these attacks, so affected data frequently includes protected health information, or PHI. The OCR newsletter indicates that incidents of cyber extortion have been steadily increasing over the past several years and will continue to disrupt many organizations.… Continue Reading
The Equifax breach will likely devour the entire breach news cycle in the near term, given the size of the incident and that it gets to the essence of the company’s business of maintaining some of the most sensitive consumer information. Still, in what for the moment might seem like a more pedestrian risk, companies continue to be affected by ransomware. One of the unique aspects of ransomware is that it does not involve just stealing information, but makes the information unavailable to the business. If critical information is unavailable, there is operational impact and often a material effect that … Continue Reading
A new strain of malware began infecting computer systems across the globe on Tuesday. Similar to the WannaCry ransomware that struck last month, the malware used in this week’s attack spreads quickly across multiple computers on a network, encrypting files and displaying a ransom note that requests $300 worth of bitcoin for a decryption key.
Reports of infection began in Ukraine, where computer systems belonging to government ministries, financial institutions, transportation systems, and major energy companies began malfunctioning. The attack was first believed to be caused by a variant of the “Petya” strain of ransomware, however recent reports from security … Continue Reading
In this post, we summarize key facts regarding the WannaCry ransomware attack, provide an abbreviated list of known affected companies, and offer an overview of the legal issues and the response to the attack. This post is an update to our prior coverage of WannaCry.… Continue Reading
A large-scale ransomware attack began impacting companies and hospitals across the United States, Europe, and Asia early Friday morning. According to reports, companies in more than 70 countries have reported incidents as of Friday afternoon.
The attacks are being caused by ransomware called “WannaCry,” which quickly moves across systems to encrypt large amounts of computer data. Ransom demands seen during the current attack have requested Bitcoin amounts that equal between $300 and $600 in return for the decryption key. According to security researchers, the ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows operating system that was disclosed in an … Continue Reading
Recent comments by FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez suggest that a company’s failure to take preventative measures to address ransomware could result in an enforcement action by the FTC, even if a company is never actually subject to a ransomware attack. The Chairwoman’s comments reflect a growing concern among US government agencies regarding ransomware and may foreshadow additional FTC action, building upon a developing trend of US regulators engaging in pre-breach enforcement action.… Continue Reading
On June 12, 2016, the HHS Office of Civil Rights (OCR) released guidance, entitled “FACT SHEET: Ransomware and HIPAA,” in response to the rising number of ransomware attacks perpetrated against healthcare entities. The guidance addresses Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) issues that may arise when medical records containing Protected Health Information (PHI) are compromised or stolen during a ransomware attack. OCR’s view is that compliance with HIPAA’s information security requirements assists healthcare entities in preventing and recovering from ransomware attacks.… Continue Reading
Last week, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was able to successfully negotiate the release of a collection of system resources and data files that had been encrypted and held hostage by ransomware attackers. Ransomware is a peculiar type of malware that is not designed or intended to steal personal or confidential information. Rather, ransomware is built to exploit the inherent value assigned to data security and control, by taking it away from the user. It does this by combing for critical system files and potentially valuable user data (word documents, excel spreadsheets, pdf files, outlook messages, and the like). As … Continue Reading