CommonSpirit Health Hacked in October 2022: How to Protect Your Organization from a Ransomware Attack

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On October 3rd, 2022, Chicago-based CommonSpirit Health was hacked with a ransomware attack impacting more than 1,000 care sites and 140 hospitals in 21 states. This article will discuss what happened, and how you can protect your organization from a ransomware attack in the future.

CommonSpirit Health held ransom

“Upon discovering the ransomware attack, the CommonSpirit organization quickly mobilized to protect our systems, contain the incident, begin an investigation, and maintain continuity of care.” It appears that CommonSpirit Health, the nation’s second-largest nonprofit hospital network, will not pay the ransom and has experienced operational impacts to hospitals.

The entry point for the ransomware attack has not been disclosed, and neither has the determination if any there was a breach to patient information.

What is a ransomware attack?

ransomware

A ransomware attack is a combination of encryption software and hackers. The software encrypts your data preventing you from being able to access it unless a hacker provides you a decryption key which most frequently you need to pay for. The software can be initially installed in many different ways post compromising your environment.

An additional element of ransomware attacks that has become the norm since 2021 is exporting your data during the attack to cloud storage and then demanding payment for both providing you a decryption key and to prevent you from publicly selling or disclosing your data.

How to Protect Your Organization from a Ransomware Attack

There is no simple answer here. Ransonware attacks happen after you have already been compromised in any number of ways. Frequently the entry point is human error and/or lack of multi factor authentication system (MFA). Almost as frequently it is unpatched security weaknesses that hackers exploit.

Our best recommendation is to follow the Center for Information Security (CIS) 18 critical security controls from top to bottom – CIS regularly updates the critical controls based on findings of why compromises occur most frequently, and the controls address 98% of risk. Additionally, ensure that you have adequate cyberattack insurance as no one can be 100% protected.

Though the CommonSpirit Health hack is unfortunate, having such a public company be visibly hacked, serves as a lesson that the rest of us can apply and prevent being hacked ourselves.

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