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ADA resources can help dentists fend off hackers, cyberattacks

February 13, 2018

By David Burger

Greenfield, Ind. — The ADA Center for Professional Success has resources to help dentists fend off cyberattacks and hackers to possibly avoid what just happened to a suburban Indianapolis health network in January.

Hancock Health said it paid about a $55,000 ransom to hackers to regain access to its hospital computer systems, according to an Associated Press story.

Steve Long, president and CEO of Hancock Health, said on the network's website that "an attack on the information systems of Hancock Health was initiated by a sophisticated criminal group we now believe was located in eastern Europe." He added, "A few moments after initiation of the attack, IT staff began to notice negative changes in system performance and messages began to appear on PC screens in the hospital indicating that the system was being encrypted using SamSam ransomware. These messages noted that decryption keys could be purchased with bitcoin."

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users' access to it until a "ransom" is paid to unlock it. Individuals and organizations should be aware that paying the ransom does not guarantee that access will be restored. Ransomware can spread easily when it encounters unpatched or outdated software.

Hancock Health is an Indiana-based, full-service health care network serving Hancock County and the surrounding areas. The health system includes Hancock Regional Hospital, Hancock Physician Network and more than 20 other health care facilities, such as wellness centers, women's clinics, family practices and the Sue Ann Wortman Cancer Center.

Information on The Center for Professional Success includes several tips on protecting dental offices from ransomware, as well as another example of how ransomware can be particularly devastating. Visit Success.ADA.org and search for "ransomware" to access the article.

Additional information on ransomware can be found at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' website hhs.gov by searching for "ransomware."