By Nigel Smith, Founder and CEO, Next Step Communications

I’ve heard about jailhouse justice for some of the most horrific criminals who do harm to the most vulnerable. I don’t understand nor want to understand how karma is dished out.

However, in the middle of this pandemic hospitals are now the focus of some dark elements who are licking their chops to go after the most fragile of institutions trying to save lives. Data theft has unfortunately been around in healthcare since digital systems were first introduced – hacking into hospitals to steal patient identities seems to be (sadly) common sport. However a new study shows that this nefarious behavior might be on the rise – despite the national healthcare crisis we’re currently facing. Taking aim when these same institutions could be attempting to save the crook’s life – or family – from our current pandemic is madness. 

I’ve seen the first hand impact of both a hospital leader and tech company executive having to deal with this underworld. As glamorous as Danny Ocean is during those movies suggesting there is a criminal code of conduct, there isn’t here. Preventing the ability for care teams to interact with patient records, or communicating with pharmacy, is heartless. 

Patient lives are on the line. Of course, this is exactly why these criminals attack these institutions – they know administrators pay the ransoms. But it feels like if crooks are gonna crook, find a ‘better’ institution to raid if you must. The ambush of a tech company is still criminal, but the larger impact of hitting a hospital will elevate your deeds to include murder when (hopefully) caught.  

Sadly, this lack of concern for the greater good is not new – every holiday season there is always a Toys for Tots theft. People step up and try and replace the toys. But in the case of hospital data theft, there is no quick replacement. There could be situations where lives could be lost over hospitals not paying a ransom fast enough. 

Thank you to all the front line workers, administrators, operations staff and IT/technologists who keep hospitals connected and moving forward saving the lives of patients. In the face of these increasing threats – both safety and data-related – we applaud the work you are doing to get us through these challenging times.