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The United States, along with much of the world, finds itself battling two pandemics: the COVID crisis, of course, but also the cyber pandemic that has also proliferated across the globe. In the healthcare industry, some hospitals have been hobbled for weeks at a time — and at least one patient has died — because of the scourge of ransomware. The cyberattacks have become so frequent and commonplace that it's worth asking whether ransomware, like many suspect is happening with SARS-CoV-2, is already moving from pandemic to endemic status.

Rogers, former director of the National Security Agency and the former commander of U. That's one reason why you've seen a massive uptick, particularly focused on healthcare, in the past 18 months from a ransomware activity perspective.

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Indeed, since the early days of the pandemic — not counting the vanishingly small window when the prospect of a hacker " ceasefire " was dangled — the bad guys have been hard at work, targeting the World Health Organization and COVID testing sitesacademic research facilities and vaccine distribution supply chains. Their targets have also included hospitals and health systems of all shapes and sizes.

Meanwhile, the size of their ransom demands is climbing skyward. Rogers served at NSA and U. Cyber Command concurrently for four years before retiring in one, the criminal segment has become much more aggressive," he said. There's a lot of money. There's a lot of money for criminal groups to be made. I may not want to pay the ransom, but I can't afford interruption or degradation of my services or operating ability to help in the middle of a pandemic.

I've got to keep going. two? They are willing to take even greater risks. That's not just with ransomware. Recent headlines have shown just how far foreign cyber crooks have been willing and able to intrude upon U. Rogers points specifically to the SolarWinds and Microsoft Exchange server exploits, which stunned even seasoned cybersecurity professionals in their sheer size, scope and brazenness. Meanwhile, ransomware seizures such as the Colonial Pipeline hack have helped bring the threat into sharp focus. Finally, the president and Congress are paying attention, and federal security agencies seem willing to give as good as they get.

Former NSA Director Mike Rogers on Colonial Pipeline hack, cybersecurity

But he says he is frustrated that the cybersecurity problems are not only persisting, but worsening. A big reason for that is the current state of incident prevention and response — especially when it comes to interrelation of the public and private sectors — "has failed to deliver for over a decade," said Rogers. But my frustration is: Why do we keep doing the same things and expect a different result?

Sure, there are valuable organizations such as H-ISACthe Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which specializes in "crowdsourced" cybersecurity, and shares threat intelligence and other best practices for protection and risk mitigation.

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But too often, "the government will do its thing, the private sector will do its thing," said Rogers. Most organizations don't have time to think about it. They are just trying to defend their own systems, their own intellectual property, their own data. But to truly measure up against the scope of the cyber threat to healthcare and all industries, "I just think we've got to have a different model," he said. We've got the government and the private sector.

We've got to team together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He acknowledged, "You can't do this at scale across every business within the private sector. But can't we start with a few sectors where the risks to our economy, to the safety and wellbeing of our citizens, to the security of our nation?

Let's pick a few areas, and do some test cases, and see if a different model might produce a different result. There are some "great examples out there where we have applied a government and private-sector model and achieved some amazing ," said Rogers. For instance, he said, "We decided as a society that the potential loss of literally hundreds of people in an aviation accident represented such a risk that we needed to do something different," he said.

It partners with the airplane manufacturer, the airline that operated the aircraft, the union, et cetera. It pores over all the maintenance records. It pores over the production history of the aircraft. It looks at all the software and the hardware. It looks at how it was operated. It determines the cause of the crash. Sometimes we're going to change production. We're going to change the way we do software.

We're going to change how the aircraft is operating. While we have aviation accidents, they tend not to be recurring patterns, the same cause over and over. Compare that with cybersecurity, where we've been seeing the same techniques used by the bad guys "working over and over and over," he said. The pain of the one is not shared. We don't learn from it. And so it is repeated over and over and over again. We have got to change that dynamic.

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Admiral Michael S. Global Edition. Former NSA director: U. Rogers, who also served as commander of the U. Cyber Command, says the government and private sector must work more closely and collaboratively. By Mike Miliard July 16, Aviation safety For instance, he said, "We decided as a society that the potential loss of literally hundreds of people in an aviation accident represented such a risk that we needed to do something different," he said.

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