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Protect Your Business: Insights from the Change Healthcare Ransomware Attack

Ransomware attacks can happen to any business, no matter its size. Change Healthcare, a large company involved in processing backend payments for healthcare, recently fell victim to such an attack. Read (or watch) as Ethan explains the specifics of this event, lessons learned, and measures you can take to protect your business from similar threats.

Introduction to Change Healthcare

Change Healthcare is a backend provider for healthcare services, and they are a part of United Health. Acquired in 2022 for $13 billion, Change Healthcare processes a significant amount of the backend payments for healthcare providers, handling about $1.5 trillion annually. Given their size and scope, their recent ransomware attack highlights the vulnerability of even the largest companies.

The Timeline of the Ransomware Attack

February 2024: Change Healthcare announced they had experienced a cyber attack. This attack significantly disrupted their operations, leaving many systems down for weeks.

March 2024: Over a week after the initial announcement, Change Healthcare began reaching out to providers, offering loans as they couldn’t process insurance payments. Some systems started to come back online around March 7th.

May 2024: By mid-May, many services had been restored, but the recovery process was still ongoing. The CEO of United Healthcare confirmed that they had to pay a $22 million ransom to the hackers to unlock their data.

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The Impact of the Attack

The ransomware attack on Change Healthcare has lasted for several months, highlighting the severe impact such incidents can have on business operations. For small businesses, a similar event could be catastrophic. Imagine being unable to process payroll, payments, or conduct any business for three weeks or more—such a scenario could potentially cripple a company.

Lessons Learned from the
Change Healthcare Attack

The ransomware attack on Change Healthcare serves as a stark reminder that cybersecurity is crucial for all businesses, regardless of size. Here are some key takeaways:

1. Importance of Cybersecurity for All: The attack demonstrates that even large, well-resourced companies are vulnerable. It underscores the need for all businesses to be vigilant and proactive about cybersecurity.

2. Preparing for Prolonged Disruptions: Small businesses should consider the potential length of recovery from a ransomware attack. Being prepared for an extended period of downtime is essential.

3. Transparency and Communication: Change Healthcare’s approach to updating their clients and stakeholders through their website, showing which services were active and which were still being restored, is commendable. Transparent communication during a crisis can help manage expectations and maintain trust.

Proactive Measures for Cybersecurity

Basic Free Measures:

  1. Strong Password Policies: Ensure robust password policies are in place. Avoid common passwords like “password” or “123456”.
  2. Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enable MFA wherever possible. This adds an extra layer of security beyond just passwords.
  3. Layered Security: Utilize multiple layers of security rather than relying on a single antivirus solution. Combine antivirus, firewall, and intrusion detection/prevention systems.
  4. Employee Training: Educate employees on cybersecurity best practices. Regular training can help prevent common attacks like phishing.

Advanced Paid Measures:

  1. Third-Party Security Audits: Regularly have a third party conduct security audits and vulnerability assessments. This external perspective can identify and address potential security gaps.
  2. Cybersecurity Insurance: Invest in cybersecurity insurance to protect against potential financial losses due to cyber attacks. Ensure compliance with the policy’s requirements to avoid claim denials.
  3. Practice Runs and Tabletop Exercises: Conduct regular tabletop exercises to simulate ransomware attacks and other cybersecurity incidents. This helps prepare your team for real-world scenarios, ensuring everyone knows their role and responsibilities during a crisis.

ComTech’s Free Cybersecurity Training

Recognizing the importance of cybersecurity education, ComTech is rolling out a free in-person CyberHero training for your office and staff members. This training is designed to equip you and your staff with the knowledge and skills to identify and protect against various cyber threats. If you would like to learn more, visit comtechnc.com/cyberhero-academy

The Change Healthcare ransomware event serves as a critical reminder why cybersecurity should be taken seriously. Whether you’re a large corporation or a small business, taking proactive steps to protect your data and systems is essential. From implementing strong password policies and multi-factor authentication to investing in third-party security audits and cybersecurity insurance, there are various measures you can take to safeguard your business.

Understand your cybersecurity risks with a no-cost comprehensive penetration test from ComTech. You will see just how good your safeguards are and if your business is vulnerable to a cyberattack. comtechnc.com/cybersecurity-pentest/

For more information on cybersecurity best practices or if you need assistance in strengthening your cybersecurity posture, don’t hesitate to reach out at www.comtechnc.com/contact-us/.

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