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Rural hospitals are becoming prime targets of cyber attacks. Gary Crawford has more.


PARTICIPANTS: Gary Crawford. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. Anne Neuberger, Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology


What you're hearing there is sound recorded at a busy but very small rural hospital.

It may be the only hospital within 35 to 100 miles, making it a vital asset to those it serves.

But right now, some of these hospitals are under attack from an unknown, unseen enemy.

We have seen over a 100 percent increase in cyber attacks against hospitals, notably the 18 to 2100 rural hospitals across the country.

Every rural hospital needs to be concerned about this.

The voices of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Ann Neuberger, she's the White House Deputy National Security Advisor for Cyber and Emerging Technology, and she says hackers have been targeting rural medical facilities.

The reason that criminals attack these hospitals is because they seek to lock the systems and press the hospital to pay a ransom.

In some cases, hackers lock up the hospital's financial and administrative side, but sometimes also locking up any medical equipment that's connected to the Internet.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says rural hospitals are particularly vulnerable to cyber attacks.

Because they may be understaffed and they may not have the sophisticated technology that perhaps a large tertiary care center would have.

But Ann Neuberger told us the federal government is teaming up with Microsoft and Google to change that situation.

You know, the effort really starts with both Microsoft and Google giving free cybersecurity training to work with staff at each hospital to help assess where is the hospital in terms of its cybersecurity risk.

And then there is both free and a 75 percent discount on security products for such smaller hospitals.

All part of a major effort.

To provide the resources and the training necessary for hospitals to protect themselves.

So to find out more about this effort, you can go a couple of places, probably the easiest.

Online, go to Google and search for

Gary Crawford reporting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.