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“We are alerting Windows users of a new type of ransomware that exhibits worm-like behavior,” Microsoft’s Malware Protection Center alert reads. “This ransom leverages removable and network drives to propagate itself and affect more users.”
Microsoft has released an alert today warning about a new ransomware variant called ZCryptor, which comes with the ability to self-propagate via removable and network drives.
A security researcher named Jack, behind the MalwareForMe blog, first discovered and wrote about this threat on May 24. Three days later, Microsoft ‘s security team also took note of the new wave of infections.
It has happened again. Another hospital system has been attacked by a ransomware. A malicious software that locks down our systems, encrypts our files and will only release them once a fee has been paid. This time It’s MedStar Health in the Baltimore area. http://www.baltimoresun.com/health/bs-hs-medstar-computer-outage-20160328-story.html
Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance, Presbyterian Medical Center in Southern California, Kentucky Methodist Hospital, Chino Valley Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital have all been in the headlines for ransomware attacks recently. Thousands of infections go unreported and the nefarious programmers who designed this are making serious money. One FBI agent is quoted during a cyber security conference as stating “the easiest thing may be to just pay the ransom… the ransomware is just that good.” –rrstar.com
As the CEO of a national IT firm, I’ve watched my team battle with the rise in virus and ransomware attacks over the past couple of years. I’ve even found myself standing in front of a teller at a national bank, transferring money into a total stranger’s account for an express bitcoin purchase to pay the ransom for a client who had no other choice. Trust me, the entire exercise is unnerving. The reality is we do have a choice, but only before the infection. We have to educate, plan and protect to avoid falling into a situation where the only options left are to either sacrifice the data or pay these cyber thugs.
The primary point of entry for ransomware is through an unsuspecting employee who really thought there might be a FedEx tracking number attached to that email, or Amazon was truly rewarding them for being a loyal customer with a gift certificate. The lures are getting smarter and so should we. Sound the alarm.
Warn the team that we all have to be incredibly conscientious when opening emails. Unless you know the sender and you are expecting it, do not click on a download, link or attachment. If its suspicious, ask administration or your IT support to take a look. Additionally, we need appropriate security measures in place as well as a solid backup solution. Onsite backup strategies with multiple generations as well as offsite snapshots of our data is a must. No data that is important to us should be stored on individual machines that are not backed up. Centralize the files for simplified backup and security. Reevaluate your disaster and recovery safeguards to include contingencies for malicious software attacks. At the rate this epidemic is spreading, the question is not IF you will face this challenge, but WHEN will it happen.
Fortunately, 98% of our clients who have endured ransomware infections have been prepared. We were able to avoid paying the ransom by tracking down the installation, removing the threat and restoring valid data from backups. Pre-planning and strategic preparation is the only way to currently protect our businesses. We’ve helped hundreds of businesses, like yours to put these preparations in motion. If you have any concerns about how ready you might be for a ransomware infection or disaster of any kind, I invite you to schedule a call with one of our security specialists. We’d be happy to review your current strategy and help plug any holes we find.
As you know MedCo Data manages medical practices and businesses all across the United States. We’ve witnessed an alarming rate of ransomware infections over the past several weeks.
Ransomware is a malicious application that is usually introduced into the office via email, or a website that, “you” the recipient believes to be safe. Once launched, it encrypts all files on you PC and shared drives where all the important stuff is stored. The only options are to restore from a backup, forgetting what might be lost because it wasn’t backed up, or pay the ransom, over the internet with bitcoins to a foreign maleficent organization. Please be cautious and aware.
If you don’t know who it came from, do not open any attachments. Walmart, Amazon.com, Target, etc.… are NOT sending you gift certificates or awards of any kind for being loyal. You do not have a personal message from the IRS, even though it is tax season. You have not won the lottery, or even a scratch off. There is no package with a tracking number attached.
There may be a yes or no choice attached to the message. Both mean yes, so either way you are infected. It doesn’t matter what you select, it invites the infection. Close the message, delete and move on. If it’s a popup from the web, do not click any choice. Best bet is to shut down the PC and start it back up if you don’t know how to open task manager and close the browser.
At work or at home, the game has changed. Be very, very careful. There is a cost if you make the wrong decision.
It’s that time of year again and many of you may already be settling into your hotel rooms for the American Academy of Dermatology annual conference. For those attending, I hope it’s a spectacular conference filled with opportunity for knowledge transfer. This is our 7th year as an exhibitor and we are looking forward to seeing the familiar faces as well as many new introductions.
For those of you who don’t already know, MedCo Data launched our new Revenue Shield System™ in the second quarter of 2014. With reimbursements continually being cut and the complexities of managing a practice exponentially escalating, every physician needs to work smarter. This tool is our contribution to helping independent physicians remain independent.
The Revenue Shield System™ is middleware, a software that works independently but in conjunction with your practice management and/or EHR systems. Simply put, it finds the revenue that is slipping through your practice as a result of underpayments, improper insurance bundling, coding errors, and billing mishaps (a problem we call Practice Leak). In less than one year we have found over $800,000 for independent physicians coast to coast!
If you have any concerns that revenue might be slipping through your practice please come by our booth to discuss a free Proof Module Analysis®. If you are confident your current billing solution is rock solid, put it to the test. Our initial data analysis is free and often eye opening.
We look forward to seeing you at Booth Number #315!
President and CEO
2014 Medicare MU Attestation Deadline Extended to March 20th 2015
If you are an Eligible Professional participating in the Medicare EHR Incentive Program, now you have until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 20, 2015 to attest to demonstrate Meaningful Use of the data collected during your 2014 EHR reporting period. This new deadline is an extension from the previous deadline of February 28th, so attest soon!
We urge providers to complete attestation for 2014 as soon as possible.
This extension also enables eligible professionals who have not already used their one “switch” to switch programs (from Medicare to Medicaid, or vice versa) for the 2014 payment year until 11:59 pm ET on March 20, 2015. After that time, eligible professionals will no longer be able to switch programs.
If you are participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program, please refer to refer to your state’s deadlines for attestation information.
Note: The Medicare extension does not affect deadlines for the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program.
Image Source: Lygeia Ricciardi (@Lygeia on Twitter)
A PricewaterhouseCoopers-led group has linked tech giant Google in vying for the Defense Department’s $11 billion electronic health-record contract.
Google’s search services will allow providers to query EHR data extensively, Garrett said. A doctor could query it for all the patients with post-traumatic stress disorder, for example, and then search for correlations between patients with the disorder and comorbidities, or other factors that led to an improvement or decline in health.
Read the full article on Modern Healthcare
I found some great statistics and figures on how social media impacts the health care industry. MedCo Data’s Digital Marketing Strategies are some great ways to help get your practice noticed, engaged, and consistently updated on search engines and social media.
- More than 40% of consumers say that information found via social media affects the way they deal with their health. (source: Mediabistro)
- 18 to 24 year olds are more than 2x as likely than 45 to 54 year olds to use social media for health-related discussions. (source: Mediabistro)
- 90% of respondents from 18 to 24 years of age said they would trust medical information shared by others on their social media networks. (source: Search Engine Watch)
- 31% of health care organizations have specific social media guidelines in writing. (source: Institute for Health)
- 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone. Exercise, diet, and weight apps are the most popular types. (source: Demi & Cooper Advertising and DC Interactive Group)
To find the remaining interesting stats and why it all matters, read more on Referral MD
The risk of experiencing a data breach “is higher than ever,” according to Experian’s second annual industry forecast, which shows how the “consistently high value of healthcare data on the black market” means there will be little respite from risk-fraught landscape.
Nearly half of organizations across all industries were hit by at least one security incident in the past 12 months, according to the report, which has spurred 48 percent of organizations to invest in security technologies and 73 percent to develop data breach response plans. Cyber insurance policies are another important new strategy, more than doubling in popularity, from 10 percent in 2013 to 26 percent in 2014.