The Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) last week advised biotechnology companies specifically and the health care and public health sector generally to review a new report on a malware threat aggressively spreading through the biomanufacturing industry and take appropriation action to protect their information infrastructure. According to HC3, the malware is used to deliver ransomware, “possibly as a diversion for the actual purpose of the attack — intellectual property theft.” 

John Riggi, AHA senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk, said, “This sophisticated technical attack along with a novel strategy to utilize ransomware as a pre-text and diversion to steal biotechnology is a double-barrel cyber threat to health care. Not only will the ransomware attack disrupt and delay important biomedical research, but the theft of such research could have much broader implications. The use of the term Advanced Persistent Threat and the type of data being stolen would suggest to me the involvement of an adversarial nation state, which may seek strategic and economic advantage over the U.S. in the use of such research. Especially in light of the emergence of the omicron strain, we must continue to protect medical research and remember that health security equals economic security, and economic security equals national security.” 

For more information on this or other cyber and risk issues, contact Riggi at jriggi@aha.org. 

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