Cybercriminals Increasingly Target Healthcare Payment Processors, FBI Warns

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Cybercriminals are stealing large sums of money from healthcare payment processors by redirecting payments to attacker-owned bank accounts, the FBI has warned.

The crooks employ a cunning combination of tactics, techniques and procedures (TTP) to steal Personally Identifiable Information (PII) of payment processor employees. They then impersonate the victims and gain unauthorized access to files, payment information, websites, and healthcare portals.

In one attack in February, the thieves stole $3.1 million by switching the direct deposit information of a hospital to a rogue bank account. Later that month, the same method was used to siphon roughly $700,000 from a different provider.

In April, a threat actor stole approximately $840,000 from a healthcare company with over 175 medical providers by posing as an employee and changing Automated Clearing House (ACH) instructions for one of the payment processors.

“From June 2018 to January 2019, cyber criminals targeted and accessed at least 65healthcare payment processors throughout the United States to replace legitimate customer banking and contact information with accounts controlled by the cybercriminals,” reads the FBI’s announcement. “One victim reported a loss of approximately $1.5 million. The cybercriminals used a combination of publicly available PII and phishing schemes to gain access to customer accounts. Entities involved in processing and distributing healthcare payments through processors remain vulnerable to exploitation via this method.”

The FBI’s announcement includes some indicators of compromise to help organizations spot threat actors attempting to access user accounts:

  • Notifications of failed password recovery attempts
  • Unauthorized changes in email exchange server configuration or custom rules
  • Phishing emails targeting key accounts
  • Suspicious social engineering attempts against high-clearance accounts
  • Unrecognized requests to reset passwords and 2FA phone numbers

Considering that most of the mentioned attacks relied on a combination of social engineering and phishing, the following mitigation tips can be applied to prevent them:

  • Train employees to recognize and report social engineering and phishing attacks
  • Use multi-factor authentication, preferably hard tokens
  • Enforce strong policies to prevent changing passwords and 2FA access simultaneously or in a short timeframe
  • Conduct regular security audits, including penetration tests and vulnerability scans
  • Enable security software (anti-malware, anti-virus, firewall) and keep it up to date
  • Enforce strong password policies to prevent users from setting passwords that are easy to guess or crack

Specialized software solutions such as Bitdefender Ultimate Security can help you steer clear of cyberthreats, including phishing and social engineering. Key features include:

  • Anti-phishing module that detects and blocks websites that mimic legitimate ones to steal credentials, personal information or financial data
  • Real-time fraud monitoring that notifies you whenever institutions request a copy of your credit report
  • Anti-fraud component that detects and warns you of websites that might try to scam you
  • All-round protection against multiple threats, including worms, viruses, Trojans, zero-days, spyware, rootkits and ransomware