Cyber-attack leads Hancock Health to pay hackers up to $50,000
The number of cyber-attacks within the healthcare sector is steadily rising. The demand to access data which is unchangeable, personal and highly confidential has seen healthcare organisations up their game in order to mitigate increased risks surrounding their security.
Hancock Health in Indiana is one recent example, where a ransomware attack has led to the organisation paying up to $50,000 in order to reobtain patient data, medical records and confidential emails. Named SamSam, the hacker gained access through the hospital’s remote-access portal, and locked healthcare professionals out of their systems, altering over a thousand file names to one sole name – “I’m sorry.”
It has been one of the rare times in which a hospital provider has paid the ransom to reobtain patient data, where the organisation worked with legal teams, cyber security experts and the FBI in order to understand how to best resolve the issue.
Upon paying the ransom, it is clear that no patient data was compromised, and the move was solely to receive payment, and not to use the data for other means. The systems were then gradually unlocked.
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“We were in a very precarious situation at the time of the attack,” explained Hancock Health CEO Steve Long. “With the ice and snow storm at hand, coupled with one of the worst flu seasons in memory, we wanted to recover our systems in the quickest way possible and avoid extending the burden toward other hospitals of diverting patients.
Restoring from backup was considered, though we made the deliberate decision to pay the ransom to expedite our return to full operations.”
Nonetheless, to pay the ransom can further encourages hackers to try their luck at penetrating healthcare systems, many of whom are investing in stronger cyber-security, yet are still vulnerable to attack. It is imperative for healthcare organisations to mitigate any potential risks to guarantee not only the safety of patient data, but the full trust of patients and partnering organisations.
The recent breach follows on from Coplin Health Systems, who had to notify over 40,000 patients that their data had been compromised upon the theft of an employee’s laptop from a car late last year. Although adequate security measures were taken, the data was unencrypted, making it vulnerable to attack. However, it has been reported that all functionalities surrounding the laptop have been shut down remotely and it has not been used since, and is routinely monitored.
NeuTigers: edge AI in healthcare
What is edge AI?
Edge AI is essentially a combination of edge computing and artificial intelligence. Algorithms are processed locally - directly on a mobile device or server - rather than in the cloud. This reduces cost, computing power and energy requirements. There are also claims that edge AI is so fast it is possible to reach near real-time analytics.
Edge AI devices include smart speakers, smart phones, laptops, robots, self-driven cars, drones, and surveillance cameras that use video analytics.
Who is NeuTigers?
NeuTigers is a spin-off company from Princeton University, formed in 2018 to apply edge AI and machine learning to solve challenges in healthcare, energy, productivity, and security.
With offices in Princeton, NJ, the company is based at one of the top AI accelerator programs of FutureLabs in New York, and has also established a subsidiary in Nice, France.
How is NeuTigers applying edge AI to healthcare?
The NeuTigers AI Technology Stack uses deep neural networks that mimic how the human brain perceives and interprets the world. The company has developed the StarDeepTM Smart Health Platform for health monitoring and biomedical imaging, to improve the accuracy and speed of diagnosing diseases.
NeuTigers say the platform has the potential to monitor and screen for thousands of conditions, when used in combination with medical devices and smart sensors already deployed in healthcare settings.
Are there any real world examples?
In January NeuTigers launched CovidDeep, a tool that predicts COVID-19 with more than 90% accuracy, using physiological data from a wristband along with blood pressure and blood oxygen readings. It then analyses the data and gives a prediction within two minutes.
This week NeuTigers announced a new study to detect the early signs of complications with sickle cell anaemia. Conducted at a hospital in Paris, the research will begin by looking at changes to skin response, heart beat, sleep and temperature to predict an acute episode of sickle cell anaemia, and how this impacts on the patients’ disease conditions and quality of life.
The second phase of the project is to expand with prospective studies across different sites in EU, Africa and the US to explore the models' accuracy and clinical effectiveness.
Adel Laoui, CEO and founder of NeuTigers, says: “The best way to deal with a crisis is to avoid it happening in the first place. We are now entering a new era where medical early warning systems have become a reality.
“We are excited at the possibility of deploying a technology that can save lives of patients dealing with sickle cell anaemia. The potential of the StarDeep platform to dramatically improve patient outcomes while slashing some of the highest costs of healthcare makes it one of the most exciting developments in preventative personal medicine.”