Security at hospitals and other healthcare facilities is on life support — or at least it looks that way.

Sophos recently conducted a survey of healthcare IT decision makers, and one-third of the respondents reported that their organizations were hit by a ransomware attack over the past year. Of those hit, 65% had their data encrypted, and 41% of all respondents expect an attack at some point going forward.

Another report from Healthcare Innovation found that ransomware alone cost healthcare companies more than $21 billion in 2020. That number could also be significantly higher, as the data came from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, which only publishes breaches that affect more than 500 people. In addition, just this May, the FBI released a bulletin warning of a ransomware attack that’s targeting healthcare providers specifically. In some cases, attackers are demanding $25 million or more from healthcare providers.

All of this points to the fact that healthcare IT departments need to increase their vigilance and prepare for the worst. However, there’s good news for organizations that use solid state drives (SSDs) as part of their storage plan, as these drives can help them emerge from an attack unscathed and with all their data intact.

Keeping data under lock and key

Criminals who use ransomware to attack hospitals and other healthcare organizations use the same technology to do harm that you can use to protect your data: encryption. During a ransomware attack, software is installed on devices or servers, and then it “locks” the data housed there. The only way to regain access is with the encryption key, for which the attackers may charge a hefty ransom.

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New versions of ransomware come out daily, enabling criminals to exploit different security gaps and encryption methods. As a result, downloading all recommended security patches and learning to crack encryptions from previous attacks may not sufficiently prepare you for future hospital ransomware attacks. In addition to taking these steps, users should also encrypt their data to protect it from hackers.

SSDs use hardware-based disk encryption via a dedicated crypto processor. These self-encrypting drives automatically encrypt data that’s written to them, which means that even if hackers are able to infiltrate a hospital’s network, they won’t be able to access stored data. As long as you’ve been performing frequent off-site backups, you can simply reformat your drives and devices, wipe them clean and perform a complete ransomware recovery with all of your data still intact. You won’t have to worry whether your customer data, financials, personnel data or other trade secrets are in the hands of malicious users to be sold or traded.

While you can use a variety of storage options to back up and encrypt data, SSDs may be the best choice for many organizations, especially those with large files, sensitive data and evolving needs.

SSDs vs. HDDs in hospital ransomware attacks

SSDs are uniquely suited to back up and encrypt the massive and constantly growing volumes of data produced in hospitals because they are much faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDD).

SSDs use flash memory and controllers to store data. Unlike HDDs, they have no moving parts, which makes them faster and quieter. Where an HDD has to move an arm to write data to its spinning disk, an SSD does not. As a result, read/write speeds are up to four or five times higher for SSDs.

For comparison, the Samsung 980 PRO clocks in at 7,000/5,000 MB/s for read and write speeds. You can’t even compare tape drives, which are still tapped for backups. Tape gives an example of a high-speed tape drive that reads at only 300 MB/s — SSDs’ speed and reliability blow this out of the water.

The verdict, according to many experts, is that SSDs can provide faster, quieter backups than HDDs or tape drives and speedy restores if your hospital or practice is hit by ransomware or some other viral attack. SSDs also win when it comes to reliability, as the fact that they have no moving parts means there’s less of a chance of failure.

Leveraging SSDs can help improve the overall health of your IT infrastructure. While there’s no replacement for a holistic and detailed security strategy — including assessment, monitoring, antivirus, backup, recovery and attention to human factors of IT security — SSDs can help you get back on track quickly should you fall victim to an attack.

Learn more about why healthcare data must be always on and always secure. Then discover how SSDs are solving government storage needs in this free white paper.

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Karen Stealey

Karen J. Stealey is a veteran business, health, lifestyle and technology journalist with a wide range of publishing experience. Her tech and business work has appeared in Forbes, BusinessWeek Online, Adweek, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, MyBusiness Magazine, Government Computer News, Workforce Management, CFO, Crain's New York and Crain's BtoB.

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