Extortionists are now threatening to swat hospital patients by calling in bomb threats or other false reports to the police if the medical centers don’t pay up. Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center had intruders break into their IT network and steal medical records, and now the criminals are threatening the patients. The threat is intended to pressure the hospitals to pay the extortion demands. Other criminals are using similar tactics, targeting IT service providers and their customers. The cancer center declined to offer further comments about the threats.
Another health network, Integris Health in Oklahoma, was also targeted by cyber criminals, and some patients have reported receiving threatening emails from the criminals. Both organizations have notified the FBI and local law enforcement of the threats. Cyber security experts are concerned about the growing threat of extortion tactics, including swatting, by cyber criminals. The rise in such tactics is seen as a result of ransom payments reaching high levels. The threat is severe enough that experts are calling for a complete ban on ransom payments.
Emsisoft has reported a significant increase in ransomware attacks against hospitals. The attacks have even led to leaked personal information and disruptions in critical care for patients. The criminals are now using swatting as a further tactic to exert pressure and inflict harm.