Cyber Criminals Targeting Healthcare Payment Processors, Costing Victims Millions In Losses
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has received multiple reports of cyber criminals increasingly targeting healthcare payment processors to redirect victim payments.
In each of these reports, unknown cyber criminals used employees’ publicly-available Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and social engineering techniques to impersonate victims and obtain access to files, healthcare portals, payment information, and websites.
In one case, the attacker changed the victims’ direct deposit information to a bank account controlled by the attacker, redirecting $3.1 million from the victims’ payments.
Cybercriminals are compromising the user login credentials of healthcare payment processors and diverting payments to accounts controlled by the cybercriminals. Recent reporting indicates cybercriminals will continue targeting healthcare payment processors through a variety of techniques, such as phishing campaigns and social engineering, to spoof support centers and obtain user access.
· In April 2022, a healthcare company with more than 175 medical providers discovered
an unauthorized cybercriminal posing as an employee had changed Automated Clearing
House (ACH) instructions of one of their payment processing vendors to direct payments
to the cyber criminal rather than the intended providers. The cybercriminal successfully
diverted approximately $840,000 dollars over two transactions prior to the discovery.
· In February 2022, a cyber criminal obtained credentials from a major healthcare
company and changed direct deposit banking information from a hospital to a consumer
checking account belonging to the cybercriminal, resulting in a $3.1 million loss. In mid-
February 2022, in a separate incident a different cyber criminal used the same method
to steal approximately $700,000.
· From June 2018 to January 2019, cyber criminals targeted and accessed at least 65
healthcare payment processors throughout the United States to replace legitimate
customer banking and contact information with accounts controlled by cybercriminals. 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 the processing and distributing of healthcare payments
through processors remain vulnerable to exploitation via this method.
The FBI has identified potential indicators of cyber criminals attempting to gain access to user accounts.
· Phishing emails, specifically targeting financial departments of healthcare payment
· Suspected social engineering attempts to obtain access to internal files and payment
· Unwarranted changes in email exchange server configuration and custom rules for
· Requests for employees to reset both passwords and 2FA phone numbers within a short
· Employees reporting they are locked out of payment processor accounts due to failed
password recovery attempts.
The FBI recommends network defenders apply the following mitigations to reduce the risk of
compromise from cyber threats.
· Ensure anti-virus and anti-malware is enabled and security protocols are updated
regularly and in a timely manner. Well-maintained anti-virus and anti-malware software
may prevent commonly used attacker tools.
· Conduct regular network security assessments to stay up to date on compliance
standards and regulations. These should include performing penetration tests and
vulnerability scans to ensure the knowledge and level of current system and security
· Implement training for employees on how to identify and report phishing, social
engineering, and spoofing attempts. As budget constraints allow, consider options in
authentication or barrier layers to decrease or eliminate the viability of phishing.
· Advise all employees to exercise caution while revealing sensitive information such as
login credentials through phone or web communications. Employees should conduct
requests for sensitive information through approved secondary channels.
· Use multi-factor authentication for all accounts and login credentials to the extent
possible. Viable choices such as hard tokens allow access to software and verifies
identity with a physical device instead of authentication codes or passwords.
· Update or draft an incident response plan, in accordance with Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy and security rules.
· Mitigate vulnerabilities related to third-party vendors. Outside communication
exchanges should contain email banners to alert employees of communications
originating outside of the organization. Review and understand the vendor’s risk
threshold and what comprises a breach of service.
· Verify and modify as needed contract renewals to include the inability to change both
credentials and 2FA within the same timeframe to reduce further vulnerability
· Ensure company policies include verification of any changes to existing invoices, bank
deposits, and contact information for interactions with third-party vendors and
organizational collaborations. Any direct request for account actions needs to be
verified through the appropriate, previously established channels before a request is
· Create protocols for employees to report suspicious emails, changes to email exchange
server configurations, denied password recovery attempts, and password resets
including 2FA phone numbers within a short timeframe to IT and security departments