If you were amazed at the ransomware statistics in the first article in this series, you will be stunned to discover the actual costs of several real ransomware attacks in this and the next several posts.
Dateline: Buffalo, NY
It usually takes a massive snowstorm to bring Buffalo to a crawl. On April 9, 2017, all it took was a single ransomware attack to bring the entire operating system of the Erie County Medical Center, a Tier 1 Trauma Center, to its knees. That infection affected hospital operations for over six weeks.
The Cost of Ransomware is More Than You Think
The ransom request was only $30,000. You might think that’s not bad for a hospital. Think again. The total cost of recovery exceeded $10 million. That is precisely why it is so crucial for us to warn our readers of the need to prepare for the potential of a ransomware attack. More on the ransom below.
When the attack unfolded, ransom notes began appearing on computer screens throughout the entire facility. Once the IT Department ordered all computers to be shut down, the hospital was forced to operate substantially as it did more than two decades ago. Everything from medical records to memos had to be managed by hand. The computer system belonged in the hospital. It was, in effect, disabled.
Infection, Treatment, and Recovery
- One virus – 6,000 computers infected that had to be cleaned and restored.
- One virus – so big that IT specialists from other hospitals, the NY State Police and the FBI were called in to assist.
- One virus – no email communication for two weeks.
- One virus – no electronic communication in the hospital lab and radiology department for three weeks.
- One virus – no electronic processing of prescriptions for more than four weeks.
- One virus – All electronic records for the 602-bed hospital had to be updated after the system was recovered.
What About the Ransom?
We don’t know the motives of the perpetrators. Frankly, when you are the victim, the criminals’ motivations don’t matter. What matters is the damage that they have caused. Think of, for instance, a patient in the ER with a heart attack. The cause of the attack is relatively unimportant. What matters most is that the person can regain his health and that steps are taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen again.
The hospital followed the same protocol as it would when treating its patients. Identify the problem. Fix the problem. Begin a regimen to prevent the problem from occurring again.
The hospital did not pay the $30,000 ransom. They recognized that the payment was not the priority. The priority was restoring their system to operational health. The cost of recovery was just as devastating as major surgery would be for a person without healthcare insurance – if not more.
Prevention is the only inexpensive alternative to ransomware. The staff of the hospital would likely suggest ways for us to guard against infections, but it failed to defend against infections caused by ransomware.
A ransomware attack may not cost your business $10 million, but it will have a cost. You can be sure that the expense will be commensurate with, and potentially able to destroy, your business.
Tech Sentries works diligently to keep you aware of potential dangers and how to take a few, common-sense steps to Guard Your Technology and to ensure the safety of your data and devices.
Keep up to date with us as this series continues to unfold and to reveal the realities of ransomware – and what it could cost you and your business.