5,700 computers are locked down daily due to ransomware in the U.S. The average payout for unlocking a lone laptop is $200 to $500 but hackers are finding a far more lucrative and vulnerable target, hospitals.

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are soft targets with a myriad of ways into the system.  Often, locking a hospital out of its EHR system can be a matter of life or death for patients, administrators don’t have the luxury of taking their time to decide if paying to get back into their system is worth it.

A hospital recently admitted to paying $17,000 in ransom to get back online, but the financial impact was far greater; patients were diverted to other hospitals, employees spent countless hours focused on the attack, and community distrust grew about the hospital’s ability to provide the best patient care.  Financially, the impact of the attack was likely in the hundreds of thousands.

As US News and World Report states, “Hospitals are dinghies in a sea of hacker sharks.”  In fact, a recent HIMSS survey found over 50 percent of hospitals experienced a ransomware attack in the past 12 months.  A full 20 percent said they experienced 7 or more incidents.

The reality is hospitals need to step up protection of their data. Everbridge released a white paper on healthcare ransomware focusing on how the hackers get in and the best ways to protect your systems.

Sign up for our Daily Recap newsletter

A roundup of STAT’s top stories of the day in science and medicine

Privacy Policy