German hospitals see surge in cyberattacks

Hackers are increasingly penetrating the computer networks of hospitals and other vitally important organizations in Germany, according to a newspaper report. The federal government registered 43 successful attacks on health-care providers by early November, the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported in a text seen in advance by dpa.

That figure is more than twice as many as in the whole of 2019 and it was given in a response by the federal government to a request from the opposition Free Democratic Party (FDP) parliamentary group, from which the newspaper quotes. Often, cybercriminals encrypt data from hospitals and other facilities and then demand a form of ransom for the release of the data.

Not only hospitals are affected by the hacker attacks, but also energy and water suppliers, banks, insurance companies and other organizations. According to the newspaper, by the beginning of November 171 successful attacks on facilities belonging to Germany’s critical infrastructure were counted. Last year it was 121, the year before 62.

“There are always waves of attacks on certain areas. During the coronavirus period, the number of attacks on hospitals also increased,” Isabel Muench, an expert on critical infrastructure at the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI), told the newspaper.
“The hospitals are catching up in terms of IT security, but not everyone is where it should be. At least 15 percent of IT investments must go into IT and cybersecurity,” she said.