The United States medical care industry is under attack. Already at least five hospitals have recently been victimized by cybercrimes. Government cybersecurity experts say the threat could have an impact on patient care as confirmed COVID-19 cases are increasing. Representatives from several federal agencies are warning that cyber hackers are throwing new ransomware attacks at hospitals and medical labs throughout America. Ransomware is a form of computer virus that scrambles data stored in servers and then locks the owners of the data from access. The cybercriminals demand money or some form of financial payment to release the data. Sometimes they release the data if given what they want. sometimes they don’t. While the medical care industry is being targeted in the new wave of ransomware attacks, private companies and public institutions alike have been hit regularly.

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Two federal agencies are joining the FBI with the new warning that they have, “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The warning suggests cybercriminals are specifically going after medical care facilities trying to create, “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The Associated Press is reporting that private cybersecurity experts say potentially hundreds of U.S. hospitals could fall victim to the attacks.  The AP reports a Russian-speaking cybercriminal enterprise appears to be involved and even though the new cyber-attacks are happening just before the November general election, profit appears to be the main motive.

The federal alert was co-authored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services. The AP reports Microsoft has been involved in trying to help combat the attacks since the start of the month.