From Victim to Hero: Hospital CEO Fights Back Against Hackers by Teaching Others how to Protect Themselves

After falling victim to ransomware earlier this year, Hancock Health CEO Steve Long is now holding talks with health-care and IT groups, teaching others how to prevent the same thing from happening to them.

Photo from The Republic

Hancock Health is a healthcare network based in Indiana with a mission to provide the people of Hancock county “personalized attention”. In January, Hancock Health had become a victim to hackers. They had taken control of the hospital’s computers and encrypted hospital data. They were given 7 days to pay a ransom for the computers in which sensitive information was stored.

Even with the help of a cybersecurity company, the hospital did not have a quick way to decrypt the information. Steve Long, Hancock Health CEO, thinking of the safety of all their patients, had decided to pay the ransom of 4 bitcoins and retrieve the decryption key from the hackers.

That day, one bitcoin sold for around $13,500 or Php 675,000. In total, they paid the hackers roughly $54,000 or Php 2,700,000.

Steve Long | Photo by Tom Russo from The Daily Reporter

Constant Threat of Cyber-Attacks

Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon incident. The healthcare industry is especially targeted by cyber-attacks due to the information companies obtain from individuals. Compared to credit card credentials (another gem for hackers) healthcare records are much more valuable as they have even more personal information like social security numbers, medical records and health insurance ID numbers.

A compromised credit card can be blocked. The same cannot be said for a person’s social security number.

CNBC reported that personal health information is around 10x more valuable on the black market than an individual’s information from a retailer.

Long is Fighting Back

Rather than taking the incident as a defeat, Long is now actively fighting back against hackers by teaching other healthcare groups how to defend themselves against cyber-attacks. He has already held around five talks on the topic and is planning on holding more over the summer. In the talks, Long stresses that in those unfortunate incidents, patient safety and restoration should be the priority of all health organizations.

Photo from Yahoo! Finance

Aside from that, Long mentioned that he has since had the hospital’s tech to the “latest” technology:

“Whatever you think is good enough is not. It’s worth [it] to get the best stuff out there…What we have is the latest, greatest, and most expensive, my CFO tells me.”


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