Goodbye Pandemic! Hello Ransomware!

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Being first to predict an important trend’s arrival or departure can bring accolades for perceptive foresight or rebukes for getting it wrong. This issue of The Dark Report puts us on the record for making early predictions on two trends, each with the potential to financially make or break your clinical laboratory or pathology group. 

First, in our intelligence briefing here, we assess the COVID-19 data reported daily by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). As you will see, daily numbers of new COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths have declined dramatically from their peaks early this year. For example, there were 18,692 new cases on May 17. That is a 94% reduction from the peak daily number of 312,824 new cases on January 8. This is strong evidence to support the prediction that the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic is waning. 

Second, this article presents our intelligence briefing on the trend of ransomware attacks on healthcare providers, including clinical laboratories. The Dark Report is the first lab industry publication to provide an assessment of this threat, specifically as to why clinical laboratories can simultaneously be at risk for two highly-disruptive events. A single ransomware attack can shutdown access to all your lab’s IT systems and databases, while at the same time breaching patients’ protected health information (PHI). For this reason, defending against ransomware attacks should be a strategic priority for all clinical laboratory managers and pathologists. 

But that’s not all the bad news. Hackers and the parties behind these ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated. No lab should consider today’s defenses adequate to protect against tomorrow’s ransomware attack. 

This is why I titled today’s opinion and commentary “Goodbye Pandemic! Hello Ransomware!” We believe the evidence strongly supports the prediction that the COVID-19 pandemic is waning. Whether it will resurface next influenza season or more virulent variants appear has yet to be determined. 

Similarly, the increase in ransomware attacks against healthcare providers—most kept secret from the public—is powerful evidence that a new trend threatens all providers, including clinical laboratories and pathology groups. 

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