Dentist office ransomware attacks demonstrate scale of cyberattack trend

FBI breached by hackers; private data released

Typically, the target of a ransomware attack is either a rich individual, a local town government, or a business. Now, it appears that dental offices will also need to join that list. A recent cyberattack targeting two dental records companies temporarily halted operations for more than 400 dentists’ offices.

Although those with a phobia of whirring tools and Novocain shots might see this as karma for the discomfort they’ve experienced at the dentist, it actually points to something far more sinister. Hard to believe, right? In seriousness though, this attack demonstrates the sheer scale of the ransomware trend currently plaguing the world’s digital infrastructure. Sadly, it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon.

Records Denial

At the end of August, hundreds of dentists came into work ready to be the low point of many people’s day. Little did they know, their digital records systems had been taken offline by a group of remote hackers.

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By targeting two Wisconsin companies that provide the service, PerCSoft and Digital Dental Record, the hackers were able to practically shut down more than 400 offices. The attack locked dentists out of countless patient files. Hackers demanded an undisclosed ransom in exchange for the decryption key to restore them.

A spokeswoman for Digital Dental Record said on August 29 that only 100 of the offices’ files had been restored. Even though the company contacted the FBI, there has been little success in bypassing the attack.

Paul Levine, one of the affected dentists said, “It had a devastating effect on our office. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, until this morning when they got us up running, we were not able to see half of our patients because we were handicapped from taking x-rays. You can’t see an emergency patient without an x-ray. You can’t see a new patient without x-rays.”

Little Recourse

Unfortunately, this type of file-locking ransomware attack has been occurring more and more frequently over the past few months.

Earlier in August, a coordinated attack shut down 23 Texas municipalities. The Georgia court system saw a similar assault in early July. Meanwhile, in June, the city of Riviera Beach in Florida paid a $600,000 Bitcoin ransom to unlock its governmental files. Back in April, the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport was locked out of its airport systems for several days by ransomware. These instances are just a few of the many attacks that have occurred over the summer.

The attack on the dentistry offices shows how big of a problem this is. After all, hackers likely have no desire to possess dental records. Instead, they are seeking a big payout by companies that need to retain access to their files and don’t have a back-up.

Unfortunately, most ransomware victims don’t have a better option than paying up. Until that trend changes, hackers are only going to continue to perform ransomware assaults.