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Cyberattacks on healthcare sector spike following Covid vaccine rollout

cyber attack
(Image credit: Image source: Shutterstock/GlebStock)

December was a devastating month for healthcare organizations in terms of cybersecurity. As vaccines started rolling out across the world, the number of web application attacks against healthcare organizations (opens in new tab) spiked by 51 percent.

This is according to fresh figures from cybersecurity researchers at Imperva, which claims healthcare organizations experienced 187 million attacks in total (roughly 500 per organization). Year-on-year, the number of cybersecurity incidents spiked 10 percent and the most popular targets were in the US, Canada, the UK and Brazil, which are also some of the countries worst affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to Imperva, the four major attack vectors were cross-site scripting (XSS), SQL injections (SQLi), protocol manipulation attacks and Remote Code Execution/Remote File Inclusion (RCE/RFI).

The researchers also pointed to a discrepancy: while attack volume grew substantially, the number of breaches decreased. They claim these figures make little sense and that it’s more likely that many organizations were too busy setting up remote working to bother analyzing threats, incidents, or incident response.

They concluded that the full scope of these attacks will only be visible in a few months’ time.

Cybercriminals all over the world have had a field day with the Covid-19 pandemic (opens in new tab). In some cases, they targeted hospitals treating Covid-19 patients with ransomware, knowing that ransom demands are more likely to be met when lives are at stake.

They also preyed on employees faced with remote working for the first time and took advantage of fears surrounding the virus to spread malware and misinformation.

Sead Fadilpašić is a freelance tech writer and journalist with more than 17 years experience writing technology-focussed news, blogs, whitepapers, reviews, and ebooks. And his work has featured in online media outlets from all over the world, including Al Jazeera Balkans (where he was a Multimedia Journalist), Crypto News, TechRadar Pro, and IT Pro Portal, where he has written news and features for over five years. Sead's experience also includes writing for inbound marketing, where he creates technology-based content for clients from London to Singapore. Sead is a HubSpot-certified content creator.