Ransomware Attacks: Hospitals & COVID-19

Uniti insights - Ransomware Attacks against hospitals

Written by Joe McCourt

February 9, 2022

Ransomware Attacks: Hospitals & COVID-19

Hospital workers have enough to worry about with coronavirus patients and others in need of emergency medical assistance. Unfortunately, ransomware hackers have hospitals in their crosshairs. Ransomware infiltrates computers and networks, freezing them until a ransom is paid, typically in the form of Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency. Sadly, these malicious cyber miscreants are zeroing in on hospitals and other healthcare providers amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

Every Hospital Worker Should be Aware of the Ransomware Threat

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security have issued a warning that Chinese hackers, as well as other cyber thieves, are breaking into the networks and computers of hospitals and healthcare organizations. International authorities indicate such ransomware attacks are on the rise in light of COVID-19.

Ransomware is used to lock networks, holding essential information hostage until the hospital pays the ransom in full. Once the ransom is paid, control of the network is returned to the hospital administrators. However, there is no guarantee the hackers will relinquish control over the network. This is precisely why every hospital and healthcare organization should have the proper digital protections in place to combat ransomware.

Ransomware Attack Methods

Ransomware enters networks and computers through several different methods. One such method is to trick a hospital employee to click on a malicious link that plants the ransomware onto that user’s computer, freezes the network and makes it impossible to work until the ransom is paid.

Additional ransomware attack methods include fake emails in which the head of a business is impersonated in order to convince hospital employees to click the message as well as its internal links and/or download seemingly legitimate attachments. Furthermore, hackers also have complex tools to enter computers and networks by hacking into weak points and wreaking havoc. Once inside the network, hackers can lock the data, preventing hospital staffers from accessing internal information until the ransom is paid.

Hospitals Often Lack Protective Software

Part of the reason why hackers are targeting hospitals is these organizations are typically less digitally secure than other businesses. The focus of hospital staff members is primarily on serving patients in desperate need of care rather than safeguarding data. Hospitals across the United States and beyond are stretched to capacity as the coronavirus infects the masses. Many hospitals and other healthcare organizations lack the latest versions of protective software that guards against ransomware attacks as well as other digital infiltrations.

Ransomware hackers are also targeting hospitals as these organizations are inclined to pay the ransom right away to regain control of their systems and provide needy patients with timely service. As an example, a company that provides web development services would be more inclined to have the proper digital protections in place and search for ways to avoid paying the ransom. Alternatively, a hospital that cannot access its internal data due to a ransomware attack is likely to pay the ransom simply because regaining control to patient data has the potential to make the difference between life and death.

Healthcare workers and organizations should not assume cyber thieves will cut them slack during these challenging times. Rather, expect the opposite– healthcare providers have a digital bullseye of sorts as they are inclined to pay ransoms in order to serve those in need during this unfortunate public health crisis.

Uniti Fiber is at Your Service

Our tech team is here to help your organization combat ransomware as well as other digital threats. We provide digital surveillance, digital security solutions, managed hosted services, and infrastructure solutions tailored to each client’s unique business.

Reach out to us today to find out more about how we can help your business. If you prefer to contact us online, simply fill out our online contact form and we will be in touch.


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Kenny Gunderman
President - Chief Executive Officer
Kenny Gunderman

Kenny Gunderman is president and chief executive officer of Uniti Group Inc. He has 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and is focused on growing Uniti’s real estate portfolio of mission critical communications infrastructure. He has prior experience at Stephens, Lehman Brothers and KPMG. He currently serves on the board of the Arkansas Game and Fish Foundation, the Hendrix College Board of Trustees, and the NAREIT Board of Governors. Gunderman holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hendrix College and an MBA from Yale.

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Treasurer - Chief Financial Officer
Paul Bullington

Paul Bullington is the chief financial officer and treasurer of Uniti Group Inc., previously serving as senior vice president of Strategic Operations for Uniti Fiber. Until its acquisition by Uniti in 2017, he served as the CFO of Southern Light, a position he held since the company began operating in 2001. During his time as CFO, the company was named one of the “5,000 Fastest Growing Companies in America” by Inc. Magazine for nine consecutive years.

Bullington also has prior experience at Accenture and Royal Cup Coffee. He currently serves on the board of Eastern Shore Repertory Theatre and is a former director of First Community Bank in Alabama. Bullington holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Birmingham-Southern College and an MBA from The University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

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EVP - General Counsel and Secretary
Daniel Heard

Daniel Heard is an executive vice president, general counsel and secretary for Uniti. Heard is responsible for the company’s legal affairs and corporate governance.

Heard previously was a partner in the law offices of Kutak Rock LLP in Little Rock, Arkansas.

At Kutak Rock, Heard represented public companies in corporate, securities and merger and acquisition transactions. His clients comprised a wide range of industries, including telecommunications, information technology and food processing. He has extensive experience in negotiating, structuring and consummating mergers and acquisitions, public offerings of debt and equity securities and other corporate finance transactions.

Heard graduated from the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Central Arkansas.

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Michael Friloux

Michael Friloux is an executive vice president and the chief technology officer of Uniti. He has over 30 years of telecommunications and information systems technology experience and is focused on future proofing Uniti’s information technology systems.

Friloux previously was chief executive officer and president of PEG Bandwidth where he led the wireless backhaul provider through a time of rapid expansion serving 2,400 cell towers over a 15,000 route mile network through 16 states.

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Friloux started his career as a software engineer for Sabre Computer Services (American Airlines.)

He holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma State University.

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SVP - Chief Administrative Officer
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Jennifer Ragsdale is senior vice president and chief administrative officer at Uniti, a Certified Great Places to Work company. Ragsdale oversees Uniti’s customer experience management, human resource efforts, diversity and inclusion programs, and leads execution strategy to create a culture of high performance.

Prior to joining Uniti, Ragsdale spent more than a decade in the human resources field, building and executing programs to drive operation strategies and organizational transformation.

Ragsdale is a certified professional in Human Resources (PHR), a SHRM certified Human Resources Professional (SHRM-CP) and is certified in Diversity and Inclusion in HR Management. Ragsdale previously served as the president of the Central Arkansas Human Resources Association. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Central Arkansas.

Ric Chura
SVP - Chief Information Officer
Ric Chura

Ric Chura is the senior vice president and chief information officer for Uniti. He previously served as Vice President of Information Technology at PEG Bandwidth, which was acquired by Uniti in 2016. He is responsible for setting Uniti’s cybersecurity strategy, technology governance and compliance and has led the integration of the multitude of companies acquired by Uniti.

Chura has over 20 years of experience in telecommunications industry working at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Predictive Systems, Callisma and FiberTower, a startup telecommunications backhaul provider. He has completed the Program on Negotiation from Harvard University and holds a Bachelor of Science, Mechanical Engineering degree from Iowa State University.

Ronald J. Mudry
SVP - Chief Revenue Officer
Ronald J. Mudry

Ron Mudry is Chief Revenue Officer of Uniti Group Inc. and President of Uniti Leasing. In this role, Mudry is responsible for Uniti’s growth opportunities across its fiber and wireless infrastructure segments. He is also responsible for Strategy and Corporate Development.

Mudry leads Uniti’s sales and business development initiatives which include providing fiber based services to wireless carriers, wireline carriers, hyperscalers, content companies, cable MSOs and other wholesale customers. Mudry previously served as President of Sales and Business Development at Uniti Fiber.

Mudry has over 30 years of experience in the telecommunications industry and was the founder of two start-up fiber operating companies that grew to become leaders in their industry segment. He joined Uniti in 2016 following the acquisition of Tower Cloud, a company he founded in 2006, that was a leader in fiber, small cell and cell site backhaul services in the Southeast, U.S. Earlier in his career, he founded Progress Telecom (formed in 1998) and before that spent 15 years with GTE Corporation (now Verizon) where he held key management positions in finance, sales and marketing, international operations, treasury, strategic planning, and mergers and acquisitions.

Mudry serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of INCOMPAS, a telecommunications industry association.

Mudry holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a major in finance from the University of Michigan and an MBA from the University of Tampa.

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Travis has been with Uniti Group since 2015, and previously served as the Director of Financial Reporting. He began his career at FedEx, and he has over 18 years of experience in financial accounting and reporting for public companies. Travis holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Tennessee and an MBA from the University of Memphis. He is also a Certified Public Accountant.

Andy Newton
President—Uniti Fiber
Andy Newton

Andy Newton is president of Uniti Fiber where he stewards Uniti’s efforts to design, build and operate its fiber network infrastructure.

Newton was the co-founder of Southern Light, and for the previous 19 years served as its president and chief executive officer where he led the overall operations, strategic guidance and culture of the company. Under his direction, Southern Light grew to become one of the top 10 largest pure fiber optic providers in the country.

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Bill DiTullio
Vice President - Investor Relations
Bill DiTullio

Bill DiTullio has over 10 years of investor relations experience, joining Uniti’s investor relations team in 2017. Bill was promoted to Vice President of Investor Relations and Finance in August of 2019. Bill originally joined Uniti through the acquisition of PEG Bandwidth in 2016, and has held several various finance roles within the organization. Prior to joining the Company, Bill served as Sr. Investor Relations Analyst at Comcast Corporation. Before that, Bill worked as an associate equity analyst at Boenning & Scattergood. Bill began his early career working for Prudential Financial in several accounting and finance roles.

Bill holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science degree in finance and accounting from Villanova University.