Monthly Archives: January 2023

Survey: Ransomware attacks impact patient outcomes at half of healthcare facilities

The purpose of this research is to provide an update to the industry’s first study on the impact of ransomware on patient safety, titled The Impact of Ransomware on Healthcare During COVID-19 and Beyond, September 2021. That seminal study qualitatively demonstrated a correlation between ransomware and various impacts to patient care, including increased patient transfers/diversions, delays in procedures and tests, increased complications from medical procedures, and higher mortality rates. This updated study, according to survey respondents, shows ransomware continues to impact patient care, and seeks to understand how cybersecurity peer benchmarking can help healthcare organizations strengthen their cybersecurity posture to help reduce the risk of a ransomware attack and its potential impact on patient care.

Ponemon Institute and Censinet will present the details of the independent research report in an upcoming webinar, “The Impact of Ransomware on Patient Safety and the Value of Cybersecurity Benchmarking.” It will be presented live on January 24 at 12:00 PM ET and features myself and and Ed Gaudet.

As shown in the 2021 study sponsored by Censinet, 61 percent of respondents were not confident, or had no confidence, in their ability to mitigate the risks of ransomware. In this year’s study, also sponsored by Censinet, more organizations experienced a ransomware attack and an increasing number of these attacks are caused by poor cybersecurity controls internally and at third-party vendors and products. In addition to the impact of ransomware on patient safety, this study explores the importance of cybersecurity peer benchmarking and third party risk management to reduce cyber threats such as ransomware.

Our findings indicate that Hospital IT/Security personnel continue to believe ransomware has a broad and adverse impact on patient care. With ransomware growing exponentially and most organizations under constant threat, this report also explores how peer benchmarking improves an HDO’s cybersecurity program effectiveness, including its decision-making, hiring, and resource allocation.”

The two-year trend in ransomware attacks

This research is unique because it tracks how healthcare organizations and patient care have been impacted by ransomware attacks since 2021. The following findings demonstrate that ransomware continues to be a growing problem for the industry.

  • Ransomware attacks are on the rise. Almost half of respondents (47 percent) say their organizations experienced a ransomware attack in the past two years, an increase from 43 percent in 2021. In the past two years, 93 percent of these respondents experienced at least one (65 percent) or between two and five ransomware attacks (28 percent).
  • Third-party ransomware attacks have increased significantly. Of the 47 percent of respondents who reported a ransomware attack, 46 percent say it was caused by a third party, an increase from 36 percent in 2021. This finding indicates the importance of having policies and practices in place to proactively assess third party risk, remediate identified security gaps, and quickly respond to and recover from a third party-driven ransomware attack.
  • More organizations are paying ransomware. Sixty-seven percent of respondents, an increase from 60 percent, say their organizations are paying ransom. The average ransom payment has increased from $282,675 to $352,541 in the past two years. The average duration of disruptions caused by ransomware attacks has not improved and can last more than one month (35 days). 
  • More patients are adversely affected by ransomware attacks. Fifty-three percent of respondents in organizations that had a ransomware attack say it resulted in a disruption in patient care. Complications from medical procedures due to ransomware attacks increased significantly from 36 percent of respondents to 45 percent of respondents. The most prevalent impact was an increase in patients transferred or diverted to other facilities from 65 percent of respondents last year to 70 percent of respondents this year. In addition, 21 percent of respondents say ransomware has an adverse impact on patient mortality rates. 
  • Business continuity plans are increasingly the most important step to preparing for a ransomware attack. Sixty percent of respondents say their organizations have a business continuity plan that includes a planned system outage in the event of a ransomware attack, an increase from 54 percent of respondents. Also, 33 percent of respondents say their organization is increasing funds to deal with a potential ransomware attack, an increase from 23 percent in the previous study. 


Benchmarking the effectiveness of cybersecurity programs is considered important and valuable.

 As ransomware attacks increase, an effective cybersecurity program is critical. According to the findings, respondents agree that peer benchmarking is both valuable and important.

  • Benchmarking is very valuable in demonstrating cybersecurity program effectiveness, according to 78 percent of respondents. Benchmarking is also valuable when demonstrating cybersecurity framework coverage/compliance (61 percent of respondents) and improving cybersecurity programs (52 percent of respondents). 
  • Benchmarking improves cybersecurity program decision making. Another important value of benchmarking is to make better, data-driven decisions (53 percent of respondents) followed by the ability to demonstrate effectiveness of benchmarking program investments (48 percent of respondents). 
  • Benchmarking is important to making the business case for hiring cyber staff and purchasing technologies, according to 69 percent and 60 percent of respondents respectively. Fifty-seven percent of respondents say benchmarking is valuable when making investment decisions in the cybersecurity program. 
  • Benchmarking is important when establishing cybersecurity program goals, according to 67 percent of respondents. These metrics are also helpful in responding to and recovering from ransomware attacks, according to 51 percent of respondents

“The findings in this year’s Ponemon report are, unfortunately, not surprising as ransomware continues to shut down hospital operations and disrupt care at an alarming rate,” said Ed Gaudet, CEO and Founder of Censinet. “With patient safety in jeopardy and ‘asymmetric warfare’ no longer hyperbole to describe the situation, this report highlights the continued threats while introducing new approaches to creating rigorous, robust, and continuous cyber programs that protect patients.”

To read the entire report, visit Censinet’s website

With SBF arrest, is crypto having a Lehman Brothers moment or a Bernie Madoff moment?

Bob Sullivan

No one knows when an investment bubble will burst, but in retrospect, there’s often a single event that comes to symbolize the beginning of the end — as the Lehman Brothers implosion is now forever intertwined with the collapse of the housing bubble and the Great Recession.  It’s understandable that many see the recent collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX — and the ripple effects from that news — as the beginning of the end for a cryptocurrency bubble, and perhaps for cryptocurrency itself.  Or perhaps it’s just the end of the beginning?

I recently hosted a discussion with several crypto experts at my regular “In Conversation” column I publish with Duke University. You can read the entire threaded dialog at the In Conversation page, but I’ll give you highlights here:

From Lee Reiners, a Duke professor who formerly worked at the New York Fed:

“One can only hope that it is the end and we all move on to more productive things. Imagine how much better the world would be if all the money and human capital that has flooded into cryptocurrency over the past decade had instead gone into addressing climate change or curing cancer? But the allure of quick and easy riches is hard to resist for many people.

“As much as I wish it were so, I do not believe this is the “end” of crypto. … I see the industry increasingly embracing DeFi, or decentralized finance. DeFi represents traditional financial services offered on the blockchain without the need for any third-party intermediaries, all made possible by smart contracts. DeFi is particularly problematic from a regulatory standpoint, as regulation traditionally applies to legal entities. Who is responsible for compliance when the service is provided by open-source software?

“DeFi, and crypto more generally, are destined for the ash heap of history because they provide no genuine economic utility. But I do not believe it will be a swift death. At this point, crypto has taken on religious elements and there will always be a core group of true believers, no matter what happens. But as time passes and people realize crypto’s killer use case will never come, most people will move on to other things and twenty years from now, we’ll share a drink and remark: “remember when crypto was a thing, those were wild times.” Until then, good people must actively resist the crypto-con so that innocent people are not taken advantage of, national security is not undermined, and financial stability is maintained. It won’t be easy, but it is necessary.

From Shane Stansbury, Duke professor and former federal prosecutor with the SDNY

“It has been difficult to watch the celebrity marketing blitz in this industry over these last couple of years with the sinking feeling that the day would come when many average folks would lose their shirts (or, quite literally, their life savings).

“Will the likes of LeBron James and Tom Brady think twice in the future before placing their reputations on a product like this? I like to think so (and surely Taylor Swift is relieved that she passed on the opportunity).

“With all due respect to fans of Kim Kardashian, enforcement actions can serve as important deterrents. Although investor lawsuits can be an uphill climb (in part because of the difficulty of linking one’s loss to specific endorsements), the SEC did reach a $1.2 million settlement with Kardashian for failure to make proper disclosures when touting a crypto asset on her Instagram feed. Regardless of your net worth, that’s real money and few celebrities want to find themselves entangled in regulatory actions or, even worse, getting a knock on the door by criminal investigators. There are easier ways to make a buck, and none of this can be good for one’s brand.

“Like Lee, I don’t think crypto is going away anytime soon, at least absent some other major developments (always a possibility in this space). As bad as the SBF/FTX debacle was, it was no Lehman Brothers, in part because the scale and global financial impact are different by orders of magnitude. Most of the victims were institutional investors, and their losses, however painful, did not send shockwaves through the larger financial system. That matters for purposes of the level of accountability that the public will demand.”

Read the entire thread at this link