Jul 6, 2022 - Technology

North Korean state-sponsored hackers targeting health sector, federal agencies warn

Photo: Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images

State-sponsored hackers from North Korea have been targeting health care organizations, a group of federal agencies warned on Wednesday.

Driving the news: The FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and the Treasury Department issued a joint advisory, warning that these cyber actors have been targeting health care organizations with ransomware — a type of computer code that encrypts a computer's files and renders them unusable until a ransom is paid.

  • These incidents, which have been occurring since May 2021, have disrupted health care services for "prolonged periods" of time, according to the advisory.
  • Since health care organizations provide services that are "critical to human life and health," North Korean hackers assume that they will be willing to pay ransoms, making them a continuing target, the advisory noted.

The federal agencies recommended that health care organizations maintain an offline backup of data to reduce downtime from a ransomware attack and preserve data.

  • They also recommended that organizations have a plan to respond to a ransomware incident, regularly update their systems, conduct user training and require multi-factor authentication as much as possible, among other recommendations.

But, but, but: The U.S. government is still woefully short of workers with needed cybersecurity skills.

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