Microsoft Helps Rural Hospitals Defend Against Cyberattacks

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Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft has announced a new cybersecurity program to support rural hospitals in the US.
  • The Cybersecurity Program for Rural Hospitals’ rollout and adoption is being developed in collaboration with the White House, the American Hospital Association, and the National Rural Health Association.
  • It will deliver free and low-cost cybersecurity services alongside free training and support to rural hospitals and health clinics.

Microsoft announced its new Cybersecurity Program for Rural Hospitals, providing support against ransomware and cybersecurity attacks for rural hospitals and health clinics in the US.

The program will provide up to a 75% discount on Microsoft security products to small Rural Emergency Hospitals and independent Critical Access Hospitals. Larger rural hospitals already using Microsoft products can get one year of its advanced security suite at no extra cost. 

Microsoft will also provide hospitals with Windows 10 security updates for one year at no additional cost, plus free cybersecurity system assessments and training for hospital staff.

The healthcare sector is particularly at risk of ransomware attacks and saw more attacks than any other critical infrastructure sector last year, according to the FBI’s Internet Crime Report 2023. Figures show ransomware attacks in the healthcare sector were up by almost 130% in the same year.

Rural hospitals and health clinics are a popular target as cybercriminals seek to exploit security gaps to infiltrate systems, which often lack modern defenses. Often, these hospitals also don’t have the financial means to pay off ransoms, and are generally the sole care providers for rural communities, with attacks affecting access to critical care, leading to canceled procedures and potentially serious health outcomes for those living in the area.

It’s not just rural hospitals in the US that are at risk of ransomware attacks and cybersecurity breaches. On June 3rd, services were interrupted at London hospitals in the UK after a Russian hacker group attacked Synnovis, a lab services provider. Appointments and operations were canceled across several hospitals and blood couldn’t be sorted as quickly, triggering urgent calls for blood donations.

According to the BBC, former UK’ National Cyber Security Centre chief Ciaran Martin said this was a more serious ransomware attack that worked by disabling systems entirely, with the hackers “looking for money.”