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The Ongoing Threat of DDoS Attacks on the Healthcare Sector


Did you know? As technology increasingly permeates healthcare, exploring the ongoing threat of DDoS attacks has never been more crucial.

Without robust protective measures, our hospitals and medical facilities would be vulnerable to increasingly advanced cyber threats. In fact, according to Markets and Markets research, the global healthcare IT market will touch US$ 974.5 billion in size by 2027.

Navigating through the constantly changing landscape of cyberattacks has become a significant challenge for those within the healthcare sector. DDoS, ransomware, and persistent attacks from hacktivist groups are just some of the dangers posed to these organizations today.

To ensure that their day-to-day operations remain secure and uninterrupted, healthcare firms must stay alert in strengthening their systems against such advanced strikes as DDoS. So what should your organization know about them? Well...

What is a DDoS Attack?

A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is a sub-category of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack that disrupts the regular traffic of a server with unsolicited data packets generated by various infected systems controlled under a botnet. By flooding the system with uninvited traffic, it leads to system downtime.

Other negative impacts of a successful DDoS attack include, but aren't limited to:

  • Server and hosting interruptions

  • Website vulnerability

  • And lost time and money

While all industries are at risk of DDoS attacks, healthcare has seen a targeted spike in them since 2019.

The Threat of DDoS Attacks on Healthcare

The Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3) has been warned that a hacktivist group called 'KillNet' is actively targeting the US healthcare sector with different Distributed Denial of Service attacks. These cybercriminals are pro-Russian groups that have been active since January 2022. They target countries and their healthcare systems supporting Ukraine in the Ukraine-Russia war.

The report states, "DDoS is the primary type of cyberattack employed by the group which can cause thousands of connection requests and packets to be sent to the target server or website per minute, slowing down or even stopping vulnerable systems. While KillNet's DDoS attacks usually do not cause major damage, they can cause service outages lasting several hours or even days."

Researchers found that one of the senior members of the cybercriminal group 'KillNet' threatened to sell health-related data due to the Congress' Ukraine policy. HC3 noted, "It is worth taking any claims KillNet makes about its attacks or operations with a grain of salt. Given the group's tendency to exaggerate, some of these announced operations and developments may only be to garner attention, both publicly and across the cybercrime underground." The US government investigated the incidents and found 48 domains associated with DDoS-for-hire services and immediately seized and blocked those services. 

The report continues, "Despite this seizure, it remains unknown if (and how) this law enforcement action might impact KillNet, which turned its DDoS-for-hire service into a hacktivist operation earlier this year. Furthermore, it is likely that pro-Russian ransomware groups or operators, such as those from the defunct Conti group, will heed KillNet's call and provide support. This likely will result in entities KillNet targeted also being hit with ransomware or DDoS attacks as a means of extortion, a tactic several ransomware groups have used."

All these attacks (using DDoS services and ransomware) pose a threat to healthcare and medical systems.

Securing IT Infrastructure in Healthcare

Healthcare organizations and hospitals are particularly susceptible to cyber threats. Cybercriminals and adversaries seek exploits to breach healthcare systems to gain personal details about patients, doctors, and others or to commit medical fraud.

Cybercriminals target outdated or legacy systems, scam staff with emails containing malware attachments, insecure and weak network services, or perform DDoS attacks to vandalize the system. Because of this, organizations must proactively secure healthcare systems and IT infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Cybersecurity is a considerable concern in the healthcare sector, where criminals target legacy systems, scam personnel with malicious emails and attachments, exploit vulnerable network services or launch DDoS attacks to disrupt operations. To combat these serious threats, business owners must safeguard their healthcare systems and IT infrastructure from cyber-attacks. Ensuring all software updates are performed regularly and that robust security measures (such as multi-factor authentication) are utilized will help protect you against these sophisticated risks.

Preventative Measures Against DDoS Attacks in Healthcare

So what can you do to protect against DDoS attacks in healthcare?

Here are six baseline steps to kickstart today:

  1. Application load balancers: Application load balancers are great tools to prevent DDoS attacks by ignoring or aborting unnecessary traffic from illegitimate sources.

  2. Network monitoring: Via network monitoring, your organization can look for suspicious activities in data packets and notify security professionals when said activities are identified.

  3. Data backups: Healthcare systems should back up their data (to protect against ransomware attacks) and use cloud services to restore data to ensure zero downtime. 

  4. DDoS response plans: A dedicated DDoS response plan is another crucial measure to maintain the smooth functioning of healthcare systems and infrastructure.

  5. Web Application Firewalls: Healthcare systems having web applications can implement Web Application Firewalls (WAFs) and configure them with appropriate inbound and outbound network policies.

  6. The expertise of ethical hackers: Leverage security experts like Packetlabs for comprehensive penetration testing to strengthen infrastructure security posture.


It is essential to stay informed and up-to-date on cyber threats that could affect the IT infrastructure of healthcare systems. Organizations should always be vigilant, educate their staff, and take preventive measures to ensure they are not vulnerable to attack. By having a robust security posture, healthcare organizations can protect themselves from malicious actors taking advantage of their systems.

Are you in the healthcare sector and worried about cyber threats? Contact the Packetlabs team today for your free, zero-obligation quote.

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