Cyber Threats – Microsoft Comes To Shield US Rural Hospitals

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On June 10, 2024, Microsoft Corp. went on to announce a new cybersecurity program so as to support hospitals, which happen to be taking care of over 60 million people living across rural America. It is well to be noted that in 2023, the healthcare sector went on to report more ransomware attacks as compared to any other crucial infrastructure industry.

Apparently, the attacks against the healthcare sector involving ransomware were up almost 130%. The fact is that the cybersecurity attacks go on to disrupt healthcare operations across the country and obviously happen to pose a direct threat when it comes to patient care as well as other essential operations within the hospitals.

When we talk of rural communities, these attacks can be very devastating, especially to the smaller independent Critical Access and Rural Emergency hospitals, which have limited means to safeguard and remediate the security risks and are most of the time the only healthcare choice for many miles within the communities they go on to serve.

As per the National Rural Health Association, rural health clinics happen to be one of the top targets when it comes to cyberattacks. It is well to be noted that the new Microsoft Cybersecurity Program run for rural hospitals is designed so as to support the distinct and varied cybersecurity requirements of such organizations and deliver free as well as low-cost tech services for these hospitals in addition to the free training as well as support.

As per Microsoft Philanthropies, Corporate VP, Justin Spelhaug, healthcare has to be available no matter where one calls home, and cyberattacks happen to threaten the viability of rural hospitals and also impact communities across the US. As per him, Microsoft is indeed committed when it comes to delivering key tech security as well as support, and that too at a time when such rural hospitals happen to need them the most.

In the case of independent Critical Access Hospitals as well as Rural Emergency Hospitals, Microsoft will offer nonprofit pricing along with discounts when it comes to its security products, which are optimized for smaller organizations, thereby providing an almost 75% discount. And in the case of larger rural hospitals, which happen to already be making use of eligible Microsoft solutions, the company is going to be offering its most advanced security suite, and that too at no cost for the first year.

As part of the novel program, Microsoft also happens to be offering Windows 10 security updates for the rural hospitals that are participating for a minimum of one year at no extra cost. The company is also going to be offering free cybersecurity assessments through itself as well as its trusted partners so as to assess risks along with gaps and, at the same time, offer cybersecurity training to the staff absolutely free across the rural hospitals in order to aid them in managing the everyday security of the systems in a much better way.

The news that came into being on June 10, 2024, happened to be announced in close collab with The White House, AHA, and the National Rural Health Association. Microsoft, will apparently work alongside all three institutions as far as the rollout is concerned, as well as adoption and the effectiveness of the program. According to Deputy National Security Advisory for Cyber and Emerging Technologies, Anne Neuberger, cyber attacks against the US healthcare system happened to rise 130% in 2023 thereby forcing hospitals to cancel procedures as well as impacting access of the Americans to critical care. It is worth noting that it is the rural hospitals that happen to be the most hit, as they often happen to be the sole source in terms of care for the communities they happen to serve and also have a dearth of cyber staff that is trained as well as modern cyber defenses.

President Joe Biden is indeed committed to every American who has access to the care they require, and the point here is that cybersecurity is indeed a part of it. So it is indeed a matter of excitement that Microsoft has launched the cybersecurity program, which is anyway going to offer training, advice, as well as tech to help the rural hospitals in America be safe online.

The announcement that has been made is only one part of Microsoft’s work across communities in the US as well as around the world in order to enhance healthcare for those living in rural areas. By way of AI for health programs, Microsoft happens to be operating with researchers, non-profits, and organizations that happen to be working on worldwide health challenges so as to make advances within telemedicine and also enhance clinical decision making along with prediction. The company is also working along with the rural hospital leaders so as to quickly bring AI solutions to the market so as to meet their distinct needs.

According to the president and CEO of AHA, Rick Pollack, hospitals as well as health systems have gone on to invest significant resources so as to guard them against cyberattacks, but they cannot do it alone. Cybersecurity, as per him, is a shared responsibility, and the investment from Microsoft help in reinforcing the same.

He adds that rural hospitals often happen to be the primary source of healthcare in communities, and hence keeping them open as well as safe from cyberattacks is indeed very critical, and that they appreciate Microsoft stepping in to give its expertise along with the resources so as to help secure a part of the safety net of healthcare in America.

According to chief executive officer, Alan Morgan from NRHA, rural hospitals happen to face a very distinct challenge when it comes to cybersecurity, and that’s balancing limited resources with the rising sophistication in terms of cyberthreats that put patient data as well as critical healthcare infrastructure at risk. This important partnership that has taken place with Microsoft is going to help in making sure that rural hospitals are well prepared for the future so as to meet the growing threat across small rural setups.