Security Professionals Report an Increase in Spear Phishing Attacks, Study Says | Healthcare Informatics Magazine | Health IT | Information Technology Skip to content Skip to navigation

Security Professionals Report an Increase in Spear Phishing Attacks, Study Says

March 28, 2016
by Heather Landi
| Reprints

Among 200 security professionals polled about ransomware and phishing attacks, 58 percent reported their organizations have seen an increase in spear phishing attacks.

The survey, conducted by security IT vendor Tripwire at the RSA Conference 2016 in San Francisco earlier this month, gauged security professionals’ confidence in responding to ransomware.

While the majority of respondents reported an increase in spear phishing attacks, 25 percent said their organization had not seen an increase in spear phishing scams in the past year, and 17 percent said that they weren’t sure.

Spear phishing is an email or electronic communications scam targeted toward a specific individual, organization or business and typically appears to be from someone that the individual or organization is familiar with.

According to the survey, only 38 percent of respondents said they were “very confident” that their organizations could recover from a ransomware attack without losing critical data; almost 50 percent said they were somewhat confident and 13 percent reported they were not confident.

Most respondents (73 percent) said they think critical infrastructure providers are more vulnerable to ransomware attacks than other organizations.

Many data security experts say that the human element is the weakest link in cybersecurity. To this point, more than half of respondents (52 percent) said they were not confident that their executives could spot a phishing scam.

“The decision to pay a ransom comes down to the confidence and financial cost of recreating or restoring data from a previous backup,” Travis Smith, senior security researcher for Tripwire, said in a statement. “Since most ransomware samples we have seen have a time limit to pay, it’s important to have confidence that you can restore the majority of data on short notice. Organizations should focus on improving backup and restoration procedures to reduce the cost of restoring data and services after a potential breach.” 

Get the latest information on Health IT and attend other valuable sessions at this two-day Summit providing healthcare leaders with educational content, insightful debate and dialogue on the future of healthcare and technology.

Learn More



ONC Roundup: Senior Leadership Changes Spark Questions

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) has continued to experience changes within its upper leadership, leading some folks to again ponder what the health IT agency’s role will be moving forward.

Media Report: Walmart Hires Former Humana Executive to Run Health Unit

Reigniting speculation that Walmart and insurer Humana are exploring ways to forge a closer partnership, Walmart Inc. has hired a Humana veteran to run its health care business, according to a report from Bloomberg.

Value-Based Care Shift Has Halted, Study Finds

A new study of 451 physicians and health plan executives suggests that progress toward value-based care has stalled. In fact, it may have even taken a step backward over the past year, the research revealed.

Study: EHRs Tied with Lower Hospital Mortality, But Only After Systems Have Matured

Over the past decade, there has been significant national investment in electronic health record (EHR) systems at U.S. hospitals, which was expected to result in improved quality and efficiency of care. However, evidence linking EHR adoption to better care is mixed, according to medical researchers.

Nursing Notes Can Help Predict ICU Survival, Study Finds

Researchers at the University of Waterloo in Ontario have found that sentiments in healthcare providers’ nursing notes can be good indicators of whether intensive care unit (ICU) patients will survive.

Health Catalyst Completes Acquisition of HIE Technology Company Medicity

Salt Lake City-based Health Catalyst, a data analytics company, has completed its acquisition of Medicity, a developer of health information exchange (HIE) technology, and the deal adds data exchange capabilities to Health Catalyst’s data, analytics and decision support solutions.