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Charleston hospitals tout secure systems, but are warned to be wary of ransomware

In the wake of a cyberattack that struck organizations across the globe, Charleston hospital officials are confident of their readiness for a ransomware strike. Yet systems can’t be too careful, an expert in cybersecurity said. Hackers used software stolen from the National Security Agency to spread WannaCry, which locks a computer’s data and holds it hostage until the user pays a ransom. Over 230,000 computers were affected in 150 countries, according to Phishlabs[1], a cybersecurity company based in Charleston. Among those affected was the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. Non-emergency visits were canceled and staff was instructed to switch to using paper records. Hospitals are particularly vulnerable to ransomware attacks. They are large systems that depend on sensitive patient information to operate. Local hospital leaders were clear they are prepared for a ransomware attack like WannaCry, but Joseph Opacki, Phishlabs’ vice president of threat research, warned systems to be constantly prepared for an attack.

“A lot of people were caught off guard by WannaCry, even though the vulnerabilities were known months ago,” he said.

It is still not known how WannaCry initially infected computers. Opacki said a phishing scheme, where computer users click on a fraudulent email, has largely been ruled out. Organizations were put at risk after a hack into an old version of Windows was leaked from the NSA.

Keith Neuman, vice president and chief information officer for Roper St. Francis, said no such vulnerability exists at the hospital system. He was confident Roper St. Francis would be prepared for a ransomware attack.

“Their data is safe with us,” he said. “We take all necessary steps to keep it that way.”

Neuman said his team responded quickly to the May 12 attack. Reminders were sent to staff to not open suspicious emails or provide any personal information. Neuman said he has been working with local and national law enforcement, as well. No hospital system in the area including Roper St. Francis, the Medical University of South Carolina, Trident Health and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center reported any impact from WannaCry. Each systems’ officials said they were sure their systems are secure. The VA took immediate emergency measures to guard against a ransomware attack, Meredith Hagen, a public affairs specialist at the VA, said in a prepared statement. The VA blocked all email attachments with a “.zip” extension and restricted access to email websites like Gmail and Yahoo from VA computers.

Communications were sent to employees at Trident Health and MUSC following the attacks, too. Trident has a detailed recovery procedure in place in the event of an attack, said Rod Whiting, spokesman for Trident Health. The MUSC community was advised to upgrade their home computers with updated securities. Matt Klein, chief information security officer for MUSC, said the system is under attack daily, just like other health care and higher education organizations. Attackers test the hospital system’s security constantly, Klein said in a prepared statement.

Opacki said large, spread-out systems often struggle to implement security policy across their organizations. NHS was vulnerable because the system was still using Windows XP, an operating system that is two generations behind and no longer supported by Windows. A patch to fix the potential hack was released when the vulnerability was discovered, but it hadn’t been implemented across the board. Yet Opacki said he has seen the health care industry make strides in information security, especially in the last two years. It is a slow process for an industry that worked with paper records for decades.

“We’re talking about an older structure that’s trying to join the digital age,” he said. Opacki said backing up patient information, patching software and communicating with individual employees will reduce the risk a hospital system has of being vulnerable to a ransomware attack. Hospitals should lay these foundations to protect themselves. But he said it’s only a matter of time between the next, more advanced ransomware attack.

“You’re never fully secure,” he said.

References

  1. ^ according to Phishlabs (info.phishlabs.com)

Ryan Switzer says one time a security guard didn’t believe he was …

At first glance, most people would not notice that Dallas Cowboys rookie wide receiver Ryan Switzer is a football player. He measured 5-foot-8 and 181 pounds at the 2017 NFL Scouting Combine. Once, while playing college football at North Carolina, a security guard at Virginia had no clue he was a player.

I was in shorts and cleats and gloves, Switzer said, via[1] the Dallas Morning News Jon Machota. I was about to go catch some passes, do my pregame routine. This Virginia security guard stopped me on the field and was like, Where is your credential?’

Incidents like that are probably why Switzer appears to have a chip on his shoulder. Shortly after the Cowboys drafted him in the fourth round of the 2017 NFL draft, he said is the best return man[2] in his rookie class. If Switzer can prove to be that, then the Cowboys will be even more explosive in the upcoming season than they were in 2016.

References

  1. ^ via (sportsday.dallasnews.com)
  2. ^ best return man (www.all22.com)

High School Senior Suspended for Violating Dress Code

Lately, more and more high school students have been in the news for fighting their school’s dress codes[1], calling many of the rules sexist[2]. But one student who stood up against what she felt was an unfair punishment is now being barred from walking at graduation.

WCNC reports[3] that a senior at Hickory Ridge High School in Harrisburg, North Carolina, stood up for herself when her principal said her shirt violated the school’s dress code. The top in question was a green wide-necked shirt with long sleeves and a neckline that dipped below her collarbone. However, the principal took issue with where the shirt rested on the student’s shoulders, and that the shirt reportedly exposed the student’s lower back.

The suspension notice reports that the student, named Summer, repeatedly told the principal that “I think my shirt is fine.” She later borrowed a friend’s jacket, a demand that the principal had initially made, and zipped the outerwear up. Still, the teacher reportedly told her that she’d have to change her clothes, which she protested. “I completely understand why a dress code is put into place but I feel like after I put on that jacket it should have been subdued,” Summer told WCNC.

What reportedly followed reinforces Summer’s assertion that the principal has been at odds with her during her four years at Hickory Ridge, to the point where Summer’s mother asked the school to call her before her daughter was disciplined.

According to the report, Summer then joined her classmates for an assembly, but was targeted by the principal, who had a school security officer with her. Summer said that the officer “was within five feet of me, he had his hand on his gun,” and noted that the principal “said ‘I’m gonna give you an ultimatum. We have tried to call your mother. You either come with me to the control room to change your shirt or we will arrest you.’ I stayed in my seat just like a lot of role models that I have looked up to stayed in their seats.” Her mother reportedly called at that moment, intervening in the ultimatum for arrest.

“You have to stand up for what you believe in,” Summer added.

Yahoo reports that Summer was given a 10-day suspension, and cannot attend any senior activities. Yes, graduation is one of them. The report cited “insubordination,” and Summer added that the teacher may still be considering expelling her. According to WILX, spokesperson declined to comment, and provided the station with a copy of the school’s extensive dress code.[4][5][6]

It s just sad because I worked so hard for four years to walk across that stage, Summer told WCNC, citing her 4.4 GPA.

Summer had initially sent out tweets regarding the incident, which have since been deleted. But her classmates are rallying on social media to support her. Some have begun leaving negative reviews on Google[7] and citing the incident where, earlier this year, 45 students were sent home[8] for wearing leggings as pants[9] and shirts that were deemed “too short” by the principal.

https://twitter.com/jordyn_levinson/status/865566605673205766[10]

Related: A 12-Year-Old Was Kicked Out of a Chess Tournament for Her ‘Seductive’ Dress[11]

References

  1. ^ dress codes (www.teenvogue.com)
  2. ^ sexist (www.teenvogue.com)
  3. ^ WCNC reports (www.wcnc.com)
  4. ^ Yahoo reports (www.yahoo.com)
  5. ^ According to WILX (www.wilx.com)
  6. ^ extensive dress code. (www.cabarrus.k12.nc.us)
  7. ^ leaving negative reviews on Google (www.google.com)
  8. ^ 45 students were sent home (www.independenttribune.com)
  9. ^ leggings as pants (www.teenvogue.com)
  10. ^ https://twitter.com/jordyn_levinson/status/865566605673205766 (twitter.com)
  11. ^ A 12-Year-Old Was Kicked Out of a Chess Tournament for Her ‘Seductive’ Dress (www.teenvogue.com)
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