HomeRisk ManagementsReports indicate that the Florida Health Department is managing a data breach.

Reports indicate that the Florida Health Department is managing a data breach.

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Reports indicate that the Florida Health Department is managing a data breach.

The cybercriminal group RansomHub has recently claimed responsibility for leaking 100 gigabytes of stolen information from the Florida Department of Health, sparking concerns about the safety of sensitive health and personal data. This incident marks one of several major health data breaches to occur this year, with public health departments being targeted by cybercriminals seeking to exploit valuable personal and medical information.

RansomHub reportedly demanded a ransom from the state of Florida in exchange for not releasing the stolen data, but state laws prohibit government agencies from paying extortionists. As a result, the gang began publishing the data on July 5 after the state refused to comply with their demands. The breach has had far-reaching consequences, disrupting tax collector offices and funeral homes that rely on the Department of Health’s vital statistics system to issue birth and death certificates.

The incident underscores the vulnerability of public health departments to cyberattacks, as they often operate with limited cybersecurity resources and face internal and external challenges that make them attractive targets for hackers. While these departments play a crucial role in safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining public health, they may struggle to compete for talented IT staff and cybersecurity expertise due to budget constraints and limited government resources.

According to cybersecurity experts, the lack of awareness about ransom policies and the potential financial gain from selling stolen data on the dark web motivates hackers to target public health departments despite strict no-ransom policies. This has led to a series of major health data breaches affecting thousands of individuals, with the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing reporting the largest breach in 2023, affecting nearly 4.1 million individuals.

To address these growing security concerns, experts recommend that public health departments prioritize implementing strong foundational controls, including comprehensive security training, regular system updates, multifactor authentication, endpoint detection, and response. By aligning these controls with recognized security frameworks like the NIST Cybersecurity Framework, public health departments can enhance their cybersecurity posture and better protect sensitive data from future cyber threats.

Overall, the Florida Department of Health data breach serves as a stark reminder of the ongoing challenges and risks faced by public health departments in safeguarding sensitive information from cyber threats. As cybercriminals continue to target these vital institutions, it is crucial for government agencies to prioritize cybersecurity and invest in robust measures to prevent future data breaches and protect the privacy of individuals.

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