Criminals will use ransomware to attack any individual or organization as they see fit. The San Antonio-based ABCD Children’s Pediatrics organization has apparently been the victim of such a malware attack. As a result, it is believed sensitive patient information has been leaked, which may affect over 55,000 patients. A very troublesome development, to say the least, as it goes to show healthcare IT security is still a pressing issue.

Healthcare Sector Remains Prone to Ransomware Attacks

It is not entirely surprising to find out a healthcare organization has been affected by a ransomware attack. Unfortunately, it appears a lot of damage has been done in the process, as researchers believe the criminals also extracted a lot of sensitive patient information. According to the latest report, 55,447 patients may have had their information stolen during this attack.

Among the information obtained by criminals are patient names, social security numbers, billing information, and medical records. It is possible lab results and dates of birth have been exposed as well, although that has not been officially confirmed at this stage. As one would expect, this information will most likely end up on the darknet where criminals will sell it for a pretty penny.

Darknet criminals are very keen on getting their hands on pediatric patient records. Several markets exist for this type of data. One possibility is how criminals will abuse this information for tax fraud purposes, although doing so requires very detailed medical records. Keeping in mind how that is exactly the type of information obtained from the ABCD Children Pediatric’s ransomware attack, tax fraud may become an issue where these victims are concerned.

According to the initial research, it appears the criminals used a strain of Dharma ransomware to infiltrate the computer network. This piece of ransomware has many resemblances to Crisis, which is often used to attack healthcare institutions. Although Dharma is officially incapable of exfiltrating data from a target computer, criminals have been actively stepping up their game by adding new features.

Thankfully, the ABCD Children’s Pediatric facility was able to get the ransomware strain removed from the network without paying any ransom in the process. All of the affected data was restored by reverting to previously made backups. It is good to see some institutions take the backing up of sensitive data more seriously these days, as one never knows when such a ransomware attack may occur.

Moreover, it appears ABCD has alerted the FBI about this ransomware attack. Finding the people responsible for stealing this data is the top priority right now. Patients have been notified about the potential data breach as well. Furthermore, it appears the ABCD IT department successfully identified the attack vector and modified security to prevent criminals from taking advantage of the same vulnerability in the future.

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