Michigan At Risk For ‘Imminent’ Coronavirus Outbreak, Group Says

MICHIGAN — Michigan is at risk for an imminent outbreak of the coronavirus, according to the national nonprofit COVID Act Now.

The website, which updated its status for Michigan Friday, reported that Michigan is either actively experiencing an outbreak or is at extreme risk. The site reports that coronavirus cases are growing in Michigan and its preparedness is significantly below international standards.

According to COVID Act Now, Michigan is averaging a 25.7 new cases per 100K people, which is calls a “dangerous” number.

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The infection rate in Michigan is 1.23 as active cases increase rapidly, according to the site.

Michigan has an adequate testing amount, according to COVID Act Now, with a 6.4 percent positive test rate.

The state can likely handle a new wave of COVID-19 cases, according to the nonprofit, with 24 percent of ICU headroom used.

Michigan has seen an alarming trend recently, with the number of new cases growing and COVID-19 deaths increasing as well, according to state health officials.

On Thursday, the state reported its highest single-day increase in new COVID-19 cases, adding more than 3,600 cases. That came less than a week removed from its previous highest influx of new cases, and just a day after reporting its second-highest single-day increase.

State health officials on Thursday tightened restrictions on indoor gatherings and shifted the Traverse City region backward in the state’s reopening plan, saying that coronavirus hospitalizations have doubled in the last three weeks and the statewide death rate has risen for five straight weeks.

“The only way to beat COVID is to act on what we’ve learned since March,” MDHHS Director Robert Gordon said. “Wear masks. Keep six feet of distance. Wash hands. And avoid the indoor get-togethers where we have seen COVID explode.”

This article originally appeared on the Detroit Patch

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FBI warns of “imminent” ransomware attacks on hospital systems

Federal agencies warned that cybercriminals are unleashing a wave of data-scrambling extortion attempts against the U.S. healthcare system designed to lock up hospital information systems, which could hurt patient care just as nationwide cases of COVID-19 are spiking.

In a joint alert Wednesday, the FBI and two federal agencies warned that they had “credible information of an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals and healthcare providers.” The alert said malicious groups are targeting the sector with attacks that produce “data theft and disruption of healthcare services.”

The cyberattacks involve ransomware, which scrambles data into gibberish that can only be unlocked with software keys provided once targets pay up. Independent security experts say it has already hobbled at least five U.S. hospitals this week and could impact hundreds more.

The offensive by a Russian-speaking criminal gang coincides with the U.S. presidential election, although there is no immediate indication they were motivated by anything but profit.

“We are experiencing the most significant cyber security threat we’ve ever seen in the United States,” Charles Carmakal, chief technical officer of the cybersecurity firm Mandiant, said in a statement.

Alex Holden, CEO of Hold Security, which has been closely tracking the ransomware in question for more than a year, agreed that the unfolding offensive is unprecedented in magnitude for the U.S. given its timing in the heat of a contentions presidential election and the worst global pandemic in a century.

The federal alert was co-authored by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Agence France-Presse notes that the agencies urged U.S. healthcare providers to take “timely and reasonable precautions” such as patching their operating systems, software and firmware as soon as possible and running antivirus and anti-malware scans regularly.

The cybercriminals launching the attacks use a strain of ransomware known as Ryuk, which is seeded through a network of zombie computers called Trickbot that Microsoft began trying to counter earlier this month.U.S. Cyber Command has also reportedly taken action against Trickbot.

While Microsoft has had considerable success knocking its command-and-control servers offline through legal action, analysts say criminals have still been finding ways to spread Ryuk.

Recent attacks

The U.S. has seen a plague of ransomware over the past 18 months or so, with major cities from Baltimore to Atlanta hit and local governments and schools hit especially hard.

In September, a ransomware attack hobbled all 250 U.S. facilities of the hospital chain Universal Health Services, forcing doctors and nurses to rely on paper and pencil for record-keeping and slowing lab work. Employees described chaotic conditions impeding patient care, including mounting emergency room waits and the failure of wireless vital-signs monitoring equipment.

Also in September, the first known fatality related to ransomware occurred in Duesseldorf, Germany, when an IT system failure forced a critically ill patient to be routed to a hospital in another city.

Holden said he alerted federal law enforcement Friday after monitoring infection attempts at a number of hospitals, some of which may have

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US Authorities Warn Of ‘Imminent’ Cyber Threat To Hospitals

US security authorities warned Wednesday of an “imminent cybercrime threat” to hospitals and healthcare providers, urging them to increase their protection.

An advisory released by the FBI and two other government agencies said they had “credible information” that hackers were targeting the healthcare sector using malware, “often leading to ransomware attacks, data theft, and the disruption of healthcare services.”

The threat comes as US hospitals grapple with rising numbers of coronavirus cases, during a pandemic which has so far killed more than 226,000 people in the country.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software used by cybercriminals to encrypt users’ files until a ransom is paid.

Healthcare institutions have been frequent victims of ransomware for several years in the US and globally.

US federal agencies warned hackers were targeting the healthcare sector using malware that can lead to ransomware attacks US federal agencies warned hackers were targeting the healthcare sector using malware that can lead to ransomware attacks Photo: AFP / NICOLAS ASFOURI

Last month, a suspected ransomware attack disrupted patient care at a large chain of hospitals and clinics operating in the United States and Britain.

In 2017, the UK’s national healthcare system was one of the victims in a wave of global ransomware attacks, prompting some of its hospitals to divert ambulances and scrap operations.

The federal agencies urged US healthcare providers to take “timely and reasonable precautions” to protect their networks.

They encouraged healthcare providers to patch their operating systems, software and firmware as soon as possible, and to conduct antivirus and anti-malware scans regularly.

The agencies also recommended changing passwords regularly and using multi-factor authentication.

Copyright AFP. All rights reserved.

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