One of the most tragic and surprising stories of 2022 so far is the invasion of Ukraine by Russian forces. However, it is hardly an isolated incident. In a world of cyberwarfare, the rest of the world is caught in the crossfire.
The US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warned US hospitals that even though the war may be raging in distant Ukraine, danger is anything but remote. In the 21st century, warfare has moved beyond guns, bombs, and propaganda; arsenals of war now include malware, spyware, and all manner of informational weapons.
As part of its all-out offensive, Russia is also reportedly sending a new breed of malware and cyberattacks against Ukraine. Two new weapons of note are WhisperGate and HermeticWiper, which both modify the computers they infect, rendering them inoperable. WhisperGate has the added nasty trick of posing as ransomware. Even after the victim pays the supposed ransom, they find that their computer’s information was destroyed all the same.
Does this really matter to us though? We’re safe, right? Absolutely not. It seems that Russia is deploying every weapon at its disposal in the Ukraine war effort. In our highly interconnected world, it is very possible some malware could find its way across borders and into our incredibly vulnerable hospital systems.
The WannaCry virus is still fresh in our minds. In March of 2017, it made headlines around the world as it caused an estimated $4 billion in damages and ransom charges. Unfortunately, like Putin’s WhisperGate and HermeticWiper, it is a worm. What this means is that it self-replicates and spreads itself throughout the world, meaning that WannaCry infections still regularly happen in the world today, with a major resurgence in May 2021.
This is particularly important in the healthcare field, which has a reputation for lagging in the cybersecurity sphere. At the tail end of a pandemic, the importance of a resilient and secure healthcare infrastructure has never been clearer. However, whether or not the industry has the collective willpower to fortify itself remains to be seen. This is one of the main takeaways that the healthcare space should keep in mind. Not only is there a new cyber threat out in the wild, but it is going to be around for the foreseeable future.