Others have reported ransom demands “in eight digits, which just isn’t something regional health systems can do,” said Allan Liska, analyst at Recorded Future, a cybersecurity firm. These unusual requests, combined with the coordination of the attacks, make it “seem like it was meant to be a disruptive attack” rather than a for-profit attack, he said.
Mr Holden said many healthcare systems have chosen to negotiate with their extortionists even as the ransoms run into the millions.
“A large number of victims are themselves subjected to these attacks,” he said.
The inside view
In Vermont, the damage radiated through a sprawling network, hitting particularly hard in the cancer center.
“My really good friends are intensive care nurses, and that’s okay, all we have to do is make some paper maps,” said Cargill, the nurse in charge. But the cancer center has been severely set back for weeks, only able to serve about one in four patients on normal chemotherapy.
Ms. Cargill spent the remainder of the day turning away patients, an experience she couldn’t relate without breaking into tears, almost a month later.
“To look someone in the eye and tell them that they cannot have life-prolonging or life-saving treatment, that was horrible and totally heartbreaking,” she said. The very first person she hijacked, a young woman, burst into tears.
“She said, ‘I have to do chemotherapy, I’m a mother of two young children,’” Ms. Cargill said. “She was so scared and the fear was tangible.