Hackers Keep Trying New Targets in Search of Easy Data

Posted at 4:04 AM, Apr 14, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-14 04:04:00-04

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A leading cybersecurity company says hackers are working harder, shifting their targets and using different techniques.

Symantec says the latest to feel the heat is the health care sector and that there are big increases in "spear-phishing," ''ransomware" and efforts to exploit newly discovered vulnerabilities in software used by a wide range of industries.

After a wave of high-profile attacks on banks and retailers over the last two years, almost 80 percent of the calls to Symantec's global "incident response" service since December have come from health organizations.

Symantec says hackers looking for patient data may inadvertently disrupt computer systems that oversee medication and other life-saving treatments.

The health sector's vulnerability to hackers was underscored earlier this year when Anthem, the giant insurance firm, reported a data breach affecting up to 80 million customers.

Symantec predicts that as defenses improve, schools and universities may be next.