Cybersecurity roundup: U.S. agencies warn of Russian hacks, Australian hospitals struggle to get back online

A day doesn’t go by without news breaking of another healthcare breach, ransomware attack or looming cybersecurity threat. Here’s a compilation of some of the recent developments in the cybersecurity world.  

In the past few days alone, U.S. federal agencies have warned of continuing dangers from Russian state hackers; hospitals in Queensland, Australia, have been forced to rely on pen and paper following a major ransomware hit; and patients at Yale New Haven Health say they still haven’t been able to get cancer care after one of its software vendors was breached.  

Meanwhile, infosec experts have come together to mourn Daniel Kaminsky, a renowned researcher and passionate security advocate who died this past Friday.  

Russian threats continue  

The FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency released a joint advisory on Monday warning of the continued threat from Russian cyber actors.   

Russian foreign intelligence service hackers – also known as APT29, the Dukes, CozyBear and Yttrium – have posed a longstanding threat to the United States, said the agencies.   

Recently, Russian actors targeted several federal agencies via management software updates from the SolarWinds company.  

“Russian Foreign Intelligence Service cyber actors … will continue to seek intelligence from U.S. and foreign entities through cyber exploitation, using a range of initial exploitation techniques that vary in sophistication, coupled with stealthy intrusion tradecraft within compromised networks,” said the agencies.  

Queensland hospitals struggle to recover from cyberattack  

Several hospitals and senior care centers in Queensland, Australia, have been impacted by a ransomware attack.

According to reports from 9News, UnitingCare Queensland’s internal IT system was targeted, forcing UCQ hospitals and nursing facilities to work from paper-based operations.   

“Where necessary, manual back-up processes are now in place to ensure continuity of most services. Where manual processes cannot be implemented, services are being redirected or rescheduled accordingly,” wrote UCQ in a statement.   

The system said it was unable to provide a timeline for resolution as of Monday.  

Hit on Yale New Haven vendor halts cancer care  

A cyberattack on a vendor for Yale New Haven Health was still affecting cancer patients a week later, local news outlets reported Monday.  

Radiation treatment software company Elekta had announced the breach, which impacted at least 170 hospitals and health systems across the country, earlier this month.  

At Yale, patients described concern that their radiation treatments had been paused, saying that efficacy depends on consistency.   

“We do not have the ability to operate the machines because the information that is programmed into those machines is up in the cloud,” said YNHH CEO Marna Borgstrom to News 8.  

Cybersecurity maven Daniel Kaminsky dies at 42  

Kaminsky, a researcher who in 2008 alerted the Department of Homeland Security and tech executives to a flaw in the Domain Name System that could allow for covert traffic manipulation, died this past Friday from diabetes ketoacidosis.  

Kaminsky was a proponent of privacy, security and innovation, publicizing clandestine attempts by Sony BMG to install software on computers and helping to develop telehealth tools for the National Institutes of Health and AMPATH.  

Colleagues and friends took to Twitter to mourn Kaminsky this week, noting his kindness and generosity in paying for gender affirming surgery and for Women in Tech events, as well as his security expertise.

“Lots of people are good at breaking things. Far fewer people care passionately about fixing them,” wrote Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Federation.


Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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