#CyberFLASH: Study finds dozens of Canadian firms have paid ransoms to regain control of data

imageTORONTO — A new report has revealed dozens of Canadian organizations were forced to pay attackers over the past year to regain access to computer files and IT systems infected with ransomware.

The finding is part of an international study conducted on behalf of a Silicon Valley company that fights ransomware, which typically locks legitimate users out of a system and sends a message requiring a payment to get a software code or key.

The Osterman Research study published by Malwarebytes found 44 of the 125 Canadian respondents, all of whom were anonymous, reported having a ransomware attack on their organization in the previous 12 months.

A majority of the victims, 33 of the respondents, said they’d paid ransoms with costs ranging from $1,000 to $50,000.

They study also found 11 of the 44 organizations targeted by ransomware had to shut down their business for a time to deal with the attack and devote an average of nine person-hours to recover.

Five of the victim respondents, all identified as working in the health-care industry, said they believed lives were at risk.

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#CyberFLASH: CIO advice on cybersecurity – from education to investment


Security remains top of mind for organizations across Canada from IT leaders all the way up to the executive boardroom. Here in British Columbia, there is annual event called the BC Aware Campaign which is meant to educate the broader community on today’s modern cybersecurity challenges.

Oliver Grüter-Andrew is the CIO of the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Providence Health Care (PHC) in British Columbia. He will be participating in a panel discussion put on by the Vancouver chapter of the CIO Association of Canada. The three health organizations for which Oliver has IM/IT responsibility have a combined workforce of over 95,000 staff, physicians, nurses and volunteers.

PHSA’s primary role is to ensure that British Columbia residents have access to a coordinated network of high-quality specialized health care services and also operates provincial agencies including BC Children’s Hospital, BC Transplant, and BC Cancer Agency. VCH and PHC provide hospital and community care services in BC’s Lower Mainland, as well as a series of specialized tertiary services for all BC residents. All three organizations have an extensive research and teaching focus.

I spoke with Oliver to get his unique leadership perspective and insight across of variety of topics related to cybersecurity – from education to investment.

Brian: What current threats are driving investments in security?

Oliver: “In healthcare, we are concerned about many of the same security threats that also affect other sectors: there is a significant rise in phishing attacks that aim to take over an identity to access confidential files. The

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#CyberFLASH: Will technology help revive Canada’s health care?

phillips-IoT-connected-hospital-620x250Health care is an area where the Internet of Things (IoT) can provide innovative solutions for everlasting problems. I recently attended Technicity 2015 where the role of IoT was highlighted as solving old problems and transforming cities into smart ones.

Deloitte published a report which discussed the Canadian health care challenges that are partially a result of applying old approaches in ever-changing new context. The report featured several possible disruptive approaches in technology such as rapid development in information technology. In particular, the report examined how workflow tools and big data analytics will be driving the change in the health care service model.

Similarly to Deloitte’s report, a study prepared by the Conference Board of Canada stated that Canada is lagging behind when it comes to using technology in the health care sector, with a common example being the use of slips of paper and fax machines.

The Canadian health care system is facing significant challenges that are continually evolving over time. The existing system struggles to meet the changing demands with issues such as an aging population, chronic diseases, high costs, workforce shortages, infrastructure limitations, patient locations, and disruptive technologies. These factors are expected to continue in the future as Canadians call for measures to shorten wait-times, improve patient management, protect privacy and modernize the delivery of health services.

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Doctors, developers hacking their way to better healthcare

Software developers often use “hackathons” to brainstorm ideas with colleagues, especially to design games and create new social media tools. But a new grassroots organization is putting doctors and developers together to hack their way to solutions to health-care inefficiencies.

On a recent Wednesday evening in Toronto, a few dozen developers converged on Toronto General Hospital to discuss Hacking Health’s three-day hackathon in October.

Rather than develop the next “Angry Birds” or “Words With Friends,” and pocket heaps of cash for their troubles, these developers want to create tools that make doctors’ work easier and patients’ lives better.

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