Ransomware: The Latest Criminal Enterprise

Ben Benoy Economy and MarketsThe days of Uncle Vito shaking down local shop owners for protection money are virtually over.

Now, criminals are working smarter, not harder – and if you rely heavily on a medical device, it could affect you.

Forrester Research just released a report saying medical-device ransomware could be the next evolution in criminal activity in 2016… and the statistics look frightening.

Before we get into that, let’s go over what ransomware actually is.

It’s basically a software that high-tech criminals have developed over the years that takes hold of your computer until you pay a ransom to unlock it.

What happens is the unsuspecting victim clicks on a link or document in an email or webpage, automatically downloading the software without their knowing it.

It’s turnrned into a big problem over the last year, and big business for criminals. In the last 14 months alone, the FBI has reported that there have been almost 1,000 complaints solely on the ransomware CryptoWall – the latest and most devastating.

So far, victims have spent over $18 million in ransoms to get their information unlocked from their computers.

But medical devices are especially vulnerable to this type of intrusion. Typically they’re engineered for functionality, not security. Obviously, the whole point is keeping people alive! Doctors and patients just want their drug pumps and pacemakers to work properly! Security is among the least of their concernrns.

Unfortunately, criminals have gotten savvier, and are now attacking this weak sector for profit.

I’m forecasting in the next year we’ll see an uptick in security designed to combat this. The manufacturers and consulting firms who are trying to stop this criminal behavior will be the first to benefit.

That said, I’m tracking this emerging trend closely, and if any of these businesses seem positioned to profit through this, I’ll know.

In the meantime, try not to open up any fishy emails.

Ben Benoy

Ben Benoy

Editor, Biotech Intel Trader