On October 28 2020, hackers attacked the University of Vermont (UVM) Medical Center in Burlington. According to the hospital, the hackers hit some 5000 computer systems and 1300 servers with a ransomware attack, first shutting down internal hospital applications, then targeting its electronic health records database. It was only at the end of December that services were nearly fully restored, with the outages costing the hospital tens of millions of dollars. Even worse, officials said the attack prevented the hospital from providing essential services – such as chemotherapy for cancer patients – who had to be sent out to other institutions for care.
Given the damage hackers inflicted on just one hospital in one attack, imagine the fallout that would ensue if hackers launched a coordinated attack against several hospitals in a major metropolitan area? And if such an attack happened at the height of a pandemic like COVID-19?