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White House Announces Tech Partnership to Support Rural Hospital Cybersecurity

June 10, 2024

The federal government today announced a new initiative to help protect rural hospitals from cyberattacks that threaten access to care.

The White House announced free or discounted cybersecurity services from tech giants Microsoft and Google to help rural hospitals reduce their risks for a cyberattack.

“Many health care companies are private sector owned and operated, so private sector uptake and partnership is key to meaningful improvements in the sector’s ability to withstand attacks,” the White House said today.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • New programs:  Microsoft is extending its nonprofit program to critical access hospitals and rural emergency hospitals, providing up to a 75 percent discount on security products. It’s also providing free cybersecurity assessments and training for frontline staff and information technology staff at eligible rural hospitals.
    • Google also has committed to providing “endpoint security advice to rural hospitals and non-profit organizations at no cost and a pool of funding to support software migration,” as well as a new security pilot program for rural hospitals.
  • Key stat:  Cyberattacks against health care rose 128 percent from 2022 to 2023, per federal reports.
  • Up next:  With digital threats on the rise, the federal government is expected to release cybersecurity requirements for America’s hospitals.
    • The American Hospital Association (AHA) rejects mandatory standards that would “weaken the collective cyber defense capability.” Instead, the AHA is calling for the deployment of “a strong and sustained offensive cyber strategy to combat this ongoing and unresolved national security threat.”
  • Featured resource:  This year, the federal government launched an online portal for health care organizations with resources to improve cybersecurity.
  • Quotable:  “Health care-related cyber disruptions can be particularly disruptive to rural hospitals, which serve over 60 million Americans,” the White House said in a statement. “Most rural hospitals are critical access hospitals, meaning they are located more than 35 miles from another hospital, which makes diversions of patients and staffing-intensive manual workarounds in response to attacks more difficult.”

Additional information about today’s announcement is available online.