The Department of Homeland Security details ransomware vulnerabilities faced by critical infrastructure sectors, especially health care systems.
Health care, financial services and IT infrastructure are among the most frequent targets of ransomware in the nation's critical infrastructure sectors, according to the Department of Homeland Security.
A DHS memo issued to critical infrastructure providers in early June provides a vulnerability matrix for 11 of the 16 critical infrastructure sectors the agency is charged with protecting.
The memo doesn't address malware vulnerabilities for the government facilities, food and agriculture, the defense industrial base, nuclear reactors, materials and waste or critical manufacturing sectors.
The health care and public health sector's need to have instantaneous access to patient records makes it a "significant target" for ransomware attacks and possibly the most threatened by the growing cadre of ransomware, according to the June 2 memo issued by DHS' National Protection and Programs Directorate's Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis.
The memo was posted June 19 on the Public Intelligence open-source website.
The health care sector is "frequently targeted" and "highly vulnerable" to ransomware attacks, according to the document.
The health care sector also tends to give IT security spending the short shrift, even though it is highly reliant on access to medical data and internet-connected devices, it said. The proliferation of individual internet-connected devices in an organization increases the susceptibility to ransomware, according to the document.
Since the the primary driver for ransomware is a quest to squeeze money from victims, the financial services sector is under constant bombardment from cyber criminals pushing the malware.
However, the sector is "well aware of ransomware threats and has sophisticated cyber defenses in place." It warned, however that, although unlikely, the constant hammering of those assaults on some systems could wind up having some "systemic implications" for the sector, but it didn't note what those implications might be.
The agency said vulnerabilities in the emergency services sector are also a common target for ransomware attacks, were primarily at local and state police and emergency responders. Federal law enforcement organizations, it said, had resources, such as redundant systems and backups, to help their resilience, while small local and state police forces "have been faced with the choice of potentially losing access to files or paying the ransom."
The IT sector, it said, is "commonly targeted" by malicious actors, but it is a tough target to hit, according to DHS.