How Preventing Ransomware is Like Washing Your Hands

Preventing ransomware attacks keeps the healthcare system healthy.

Physical hygiene is critical in healthcare. Digital hygiene, such as proper cybersecurity measures and taking steps to prevent ransomware, is just as important to keeping the system running.

In healthcare, ransomware prevention is akin to washing your hands to prevent sickness. Just as good hygiene practices reduce the spread of diseases, proactive cybersecurity measures help prevent the impact and spread of ransomware attacks. Both practices aim to protect not only the individual but also the broader community.

We saw what happens when disease spreads through hospital staff; patient care degrades rapidly because there aren’t enough providers to address demand for care. The same concept applies if one hospital loses systems to ransomware and the infection spreads to other facilities in the community. Researchers found that even if the ransomware doesn’t spread, the support system falters (much like one parent trying to manage the kids while the other is sick in bed).

ransomware prevention

The Parallel Between Hygiene and Cybersecurity:

Hygiene Practices:

  • Regular Hand Washing: Reduces the transmission of germs and infections.
  • Vaccination: Provides immunity and reduces the spread of diseases within the community.
  • Proper Sanitation: Ensures a clean environment, minimizing health risks.

Cybersecurity Practices:

  • Regular Software Updates: Patches vulnerabilities that ransomware can exploit.
  • Employee Training: Educates staff on recognizing phishing attempts and other cyber threats.
  • Robust Security Measures: Implementing firewalls, antivirus software, and encryption to protect data.

Impact on Community Health and Security

In a recent article, the HIPAA Journal highlighted that the disruption caused when ransomware strikes a hospital can be considerable. The article points out that even if the ransomware doesn’t spread, nearby hospitals experience increased demand for their services which is shown to impede quality of care. The impact can be seen for weeks after an attack.


  • Spread of Disease: Without proper hygiene, illnesses can spread quickly, affecting large populations.
  • Healthcare System Strain: Increased patient loads can overwhelm healthcare facilities.


  • Spread of Ransomware: An attack on one hospital can have a ripple effect, impacting neighboring facilities and leading to increased patient loads and operational disruptions.
  • System Downtime: A ransomware attack can cripple hospital operations, delay treatments, and potentially compromise patient care. When the cyber infection spreads to other locations, the system’s ability to manage care breaks.

Everyone plays a part in keeping the healthcare system healthy.

Just as washing hands is a simple yet effective way to prevent illness, implementing strong cybersecurity practices is essential to prevent ransomware attacks. Both approaches are preventive measures that protect not only the individual but also the larger community, ensuring a healthier and safer environment for all. By adopting these practices, healthcare organizations can safeguard their systems and maintain the continuity of care.

For more information on the impact of ransomware on hospitals, read the full article from the HIPAA Journal.