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Microsoft and Google will help rural hospitals fight against cyberattacks

Back in February, experts said the number of attacks against hospitals and health systems is climbing year over year.
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Posted at 1:40 PM, Jun 11, 2024

Two tech giants will be providing rural hospitals across the U.S. with free or discounted cybersecurity services as concerns over the vulnerability of online health care systems grow, the American Hospital Association announced Monday.

Microsoft and Google have joined the ongoing efforts by AHA and the White House to protect hospitals and health systems from cyberattacks.

AHA said Google will provide security advice for assets like computers and tablets to rural hospitals and nonprofit organizations at no cost, as well as a pool of funding to support software migration.

The company is also launching a pilot program with rural hospitals to develop security packages that fit individual hospital needs.

Microsoft will offer up to a 75% discount on its security products for independent critical access hospitals and rural emergency hospitals, according to AHA. Hospitals that are already using Microsoft solutions will be given a free year of the company’s most advanced security suite.

The company will also conduct cybersecurity assessments and staff training at the participating hospitals for free.

“Cybersecurity is a top priority for America’s hospitals and health systems. It is also a shared responsibility,” said AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack in a statement. “It’s no secret that many rural hospitals across America are struggling as they serve as a health care lifeline in their communities so keeping them safe is essential.”

Earlier this year, AHA’s cybersecurity experts said the number of attacks against hospitals and health systems is climbing year over year, as is the dollar cost to ransom critical infrastructure back from criminals that hold it hostage.

Last year, the health care sector reported more ransomware attacks than any other infrastructure group, up nearly 130%, according to Microsoft.

Recent attacks have forced hospitals to send patients to different emergency rooms or take compromised medical record systems offline. One rural hospital in Illinois was forced to close permanently after an attack ruined its finances.

Recovering from an attack can also take time and money, sometimes requiring months of rebuilding systems.

The AHA said it has worked with stakeholders and groups over the last several months to figure out what services and solutions would help hospitals strengthen their cybersecurity.

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