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Published Thursday, December 19, 2019

Most professionals understand the basics of how ransomware works: your files and data are encrypted by malicious software, then a ransom payment is demanded to restore access. However, you may not fully recognize the devastating effect these attacks can have on a business – and that your chances of being targeted are higher than ever.  


While ransomware attacks once primarily targeted individuals and requested payments of a few hundred dollars, attackers have realized the real money lies in attacking companies. Healthcare organizations are especially attractive to these cybercriminals, thanks to the higher perceived likelihood of payment, the importance of the data stored on their networks, and the impression they are less prepared for ransomware demands.


As with most things in life, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Healthcare organizations should recognize their ransomware risk and take action to protect employees, networks and data in the case of an attack. Here are some ways your company can defend against this growing threat:


Protect your employees 

  • Conduct regular security awareness training and phishing campaigns. 
  • Make sure employees always operate with least privilege.


Protect your network

  • Apply security patches within 30 days of release.
  • Use email filtering to block spam and phishing messages, and Web filtering to block access to malicious websites. 
  • Segment your network based on the classification level of information stored on
  • its systems.
  • Monitor critical systems, avoid all unsupported operating systems or platforms, and have a process to decommission unused systems.


Protect your data

  • Back up business data regularly.
  • Test backups for restorability, and ensure they are stored offline and offsite. 
  • Have a formal Incident Response Plan (designed to quickly contain an incident) as well as Disaster Recovery and Business Continuity plans, and test them all annually. 

Healthcare organizations also need to be aware that trusted third-party vendors could become infected with ransomware. This might result in information becoming unavailable or, even worse, attackers using a vendor’s network access to spread an infection and impact your corporate systems. Some ways to be more resilient against these outcomes include:

  • Have a formal vendor management program that classifies each vendor’s type of data and level of access. 
  • Make sure every vendor operates with least privilege and requires multi-factor authentication. 
  • Require all vendors to protect information with safeguards at least as good as your own, and perform due diligence and annual audits to ensure they meet your standards.
  • Require vendors to defend and indemnify you if they contribute to a cyber event or HIPAA breach, and to either have sufficient liquid assets and appropriate insurance coverage (which depending on the vendor’s business may include cyber, professional liability, and E&O) to cover their foreseeable liability.
  • Make sure each contract clarifies how data will be returned or destroyed at the end of an engagement.

Beyond taking steps to prevent ransomware attacks, your organization should prepare to respond quickly if an attack is successful. First, you’ll need to identify the threat and invoke the Incident Response Plan, taking time to contact law enforcement and your insurer. It may be necessary to power down systems as you work to contain the infection, so healthcare organizations should develop a process for providing patient care during EHR downtimes. After the malware is contained, it’s important to review the incident for lessons learned (preferably though a root cause analysis) and take all steps necessary to ensure a similar incident doesn’t happen again.


Unfortunately, a single ransomware attack can be devastating – and healthcare organizations may be especially vulnerable. By recognizing your risk and developing plans to prevent and respond to ransomware attacks, you’ll help protect your company – and its data –from this growing threat.

Insurance for Nurses and Allied Healthcare Providers

With more than 50 years of experience in the healthcare industry, CNA is a trusted leader and top underwriter of healthcare insurance products and services for a wide spectrum of organizations.

As a nurse or allied healthcare provider, your mission is to provide quality healthcare to your patients in a rapidly changing landscape. Whether you're a nurse, certified registered nurse anesthetist (CRNA), nurse practitioner, counselor, physical therapist or pharmacist, you need an insurance carrier that can help you manage a wide range of exposures and challenges in an increasingly litigious environment.

With more than 1 million policyholders, CNA is the largest insurer of professional liability insurance for nurses and allied healthcare providers in the country through our 30-year partnership with the Aon Affinity Insurance Services Nurses Service Organization (NSO) and Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO). We provide individual Healthcare Professional Liability insurance on an occurrence or claims-made form, so that the individual nurse and allied healthcare professional does not rely solely on employer coverage for medical incidents and errors and omissions that may arise.

Through HPSO, CNA also underwrites small healthcare groups, including home healthcare firms, local pharmacies, physical therapy and rehabilitation clinics and counselor offices.

We bring extensive underwriting and claim knowledge to ensure that you have the appropriate coverage levels to address your unique exposures. In the event of a covered claim or license protection matter, our healthcare claim team is dedicated to providing support, guidance and legal representation when required. Our claim studies also provide comprehensive risk control recommendations and guidelines for our core professional specialties. In addition, through the NSO/HPSO partnership, insureds have the opportunity to obtain continuing education credit through a diverse program of webinars and online courses.

Products

Learn more about our Healthcare Professional Liability insurance.

To learn about personal insurance coverages that may be available to you, please visit the Nurses Service Organization, the American Association of Nurse Anesthetists or the Healthcare Providers Service Organization if you are an allied healthcare provider or small healthcare group.

Services

Explore our services designed to help you manage your claims, understand your exposures, address potential losses and maintain business continuity.

CNA offers an array of services designed to help you manage your claims, understand your exposures, address potential losses and maintain business continuity.

Business Insurance Fundamentals

Learn more about how to identify the insurance and services you need to safeguard your business.

Are you looking to learn more about the kinds of insurance coverage you need before you contact your local independent agent or broker? We've developed some helpful resources and tools to get you started.

What kind of insurance do I need?
Identifying the right coverages that address your risk exposures and your greatest challenges is important. To help determine your business insurance needs, use this checklist to help guide your discussion with your independent insurance agent.

What is risk control?
Preventing and controlling risk can be just as important as being properly covered. CNA Risk Control offers a wide range of services focusing on management accountability, cost drivers and business solutions to help you improve your bottom-line profit.

Why use an independent agent?
Dedicated to offering the broadest selection of policies and coverage to best meet their customers' needs, independent agents represent multiple product lines from more than one carrier. CNA is proud to support the Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America and their Young Agents Committee. Find a local independent agent for you.

How can I prepare for an emergency?
Learn how to safeguard your business, your employees and your family in the event of an emergency by visiting Resources to Manage & Reduce Risk for online tools and resources from CNA's own business continuity planners and government organizations.

How can I better prepare for my policy renewal?
Your independent insurance agent is your best resource to ensure your business has the proper insurance coverage as it changes and grows year over year. Review this list of 10 items to prepare for your conversation about how your business and its insurance needs have changed since your policy was issued.

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