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Healthcare Threats on the Rise: Top Cybersecurity News from August 2023

Welcome to our weekly dose of critical cyber stories. So what are the top cybersecurity stories from the second week of August 2023? 

In this week’s cybersecurity roundup, we see a number of healthcare attacks dominate the headlines. From ransomware disrupting patient treatments to threats of medical data leaks, here are this week’s top stories:


Biden Administration Launches AI Cybersecurity Challenge

In a recent initiative to bolster the security of U.S. infrastructure, the Biden administration has announced the AI Cyber Challenge. With a reward pool nearing $20 million, the challenge invites hackers to employ artificial intelligence (AI) in identifying and rectifying cybersecurity vulnerabilities in critical U.S. infrastructure. 

Major AI enterprises such as Anthropic, Google, Microsoft, and OpenAI have joined the challenge. The preliminary phase, set for spring 2024, will shortlist up to 20 teams for the DEF CON 2024 semifinals. The top three teams will vie for additional rewards, including a $4 million prize for the most effective safeguarding of essential software.

Israeli Hospital Faces Ransomware Disruptions

An Israeli hospital located near Tel Aviv became the target of a ransomware attack by unidentified cybercriminals. As a result of the attack, the Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center halted the admission of new patients, redirecting them to other nearby medical facilities. While the hospital’s administrative computer systems were compromised, the medical equipment remained unaffected. 

Current patients continue to receive care, but those in need of emergency services are being directed elsewhere. The perpetrators behind this cyberattack remain unidentified, and no group has claimed responsibility. This incident underscores the increasing cyber threats faced by the global health sector.

Interpol Shuts Down Major Phishing-as-a-Service Platform

Interpol, in a global operation, has successfully dismantled the phishing-as-a-service platform known as 16shop. A 21-year-old Indonesian man, believed to be the platform’s administrator, was arrested along with two other individuals linked to its operations. 

Cybersecurity firm Group-IB, which assisted in the takedown, reported that 16shop’s hacking tools had been available on cybercriminal forums since November 2017 and were purchased by over 70,000 users across 43 countries. These tools facilitated hackers in executing email scams to exploit victims’ personal and banking details. The phishing kits, tailored for brands like Apple, PayPal, and Amazon, were sold for prices between $60 and $150. Group-IB’s analysis revealed that over 150,000 phishing domains were established using 16shop’s kits.

LockBit Targets Varian Medical Systems, Threatens to Leak Patient Data

The LockBit ransomware group has reportedly breached Varian Medical Systems, a global healthcare company specializing in cancer treatment devices and software. The group has ominously warned of its intentions to release the medical data of cancer patients. 

Varian Medical Systems, a subsidiary of Siemens Healthineers with revenues reaching 3 billion dollars, is a significant player in the oncology and imaging sectors. The LockBit group has set a ransom payment deadline for August 17, 2023. If the claims are verified, the breach could severely compromise the privacy of countless cancer patients. The company has yet to acknowledge the incident publicly. This breach follows other security incidents involving Siemens-owned entities earlier this year.

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