Travel nurses are used to seeing patients with a variety of ailments and illnesses. But WannaCry is not a biological virus, it is a virtual one. Health care industry insiders constantly fight cyberattacks, but antiquated systems and low IT budgets make these professionals perfect targets for hackers. WannaCry is only one of many potential threats. According to a Crain’s Connecticut article, the health care industry is an attractive target for hackers because the stakes are so high. Adding to this, medical information “fetches a premium on the black market,” making attacks within this industry more enticing as well.
The WannaCry ransomware cyberattack had already infected 200,000 systems across 150 countries by mid-May 2017. Device owners detected the virus after it infected 48 medical facilities in the UK. Attackers hijacked users’ systems, stole clients’ files, and demanded ransoms to restore the files. Officials warned those affected not to pay, as victims had no guarantee hackers would restore the files. As virus issues continue, the best plan of action, especially for medical staff and facilities, is preventing this infection's spread.
This computer virus poses a huge threat to patients all over the world. Billy Marsh, a health care IT professional with more than 10 years of experience, told CNN the virus could cause critical machines to shut off in the middle of operations. He warned doctors would be forced to rely on "manual methods" in the event of an attack. Although doctors are trained to use these methods if needed, many don’t practice them routinely — and the margin for error is much higher.
Additionally, life-support and medication-administering systems and machines are also at risk of failing due to infected software. Health care professionals have an obligation to protect patient cybersecurity. You can protect yourself, co-workers, and patients from WannaCry by using the best practices below.
As a travel nurse, you may find yourself at an even greater risk. Connecting to numerous hotspot or Wi-Fi connections in different locations can compromise all other data stored on your devices. If you are not careful, these attackers could target you. The implications could make it more difficult for you to provide patients with the care they need, but taking these precautions can make an impact.