February 17, 2021

Decentralized Identifiers as protection against hackers

5 MIN READ – TEAM XSL LABS

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Decentralized Identifiers as protection against hackers

The Hospital Center of Dax has undergone a major computer attack during the night of Monday February 8th to Tuesday 9th. Medical institutions are prime targets for hackers who seek financial gain from the ransom of their patients’ data. XSL Labs’ SDI and its decentralization are there to provide concrete solutions.

The Dax-Côte d’Argent Hospital Center was the victim of an attack attributed to ransomware during the night of Monday February 8th to Tuesday 9th. The attack caused major disruptions on the computer network, which were still ongoing on Wednesday. In the establishment, “not a single computer is working anymore. From the reading of a medical file to the restoration system the whole chain is affected,” the chairman of the hospital’s board of directors told AFP. The establishment has had to revert to paper-based procedures.

According to the Dax prosecutor, the attack “has put the hospital’s computer systems and telephone system to the test, with a clear and obvious endangerment to patient care”. But “the hospital center reacted very quickly”, he assured AFP.

Hospitals, preferred hacking targets

No patients had to be evacuated, but “admissions are kept to a minimum. Only patients in a very important emergency situation are admitted. Clinics and neighboring hospital centers are taking over”, according to Julien Dubois, as in radiotherapy and oncology. Caregivers can consult medical records on the Health Insurance servers.

An investigation is underway for “attack on a data processing system implemented by the State by an organized group, fraudulent access and continued presence in such system, modification of the data contained in such system and fraudulent introduction of data, extortion by an organized group, and criminal association”.

The attack is not the first of its kind and recalls the one that had strongly disrupted the Rouen University Hospital at the end of 2019, without however endangering the health of patients. In this type of “ransomware” attack, hackers break into the computer system and then encrypt its files to render them inoperative, demanding a ransom to unblock them. According to a recent report by Anssi, hospitals and other healthcare entities represent one of the preferred targets of ransomware attackers. A trend that has “increased in 2020, particularly in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the attack likely to make it easier for hospitals to pay the ransom in view of the critical need for continuous service”.

An increase in attacks: SDI as a solution

In 2020, attacks against the IT systems of vital businesses and public institutions quadrupled in France, according to Anssi (the French National Information Systems Security Agency), rising from 50 in 2019 to 200 last year. The aim is for hackers to access sensitive databases and limit access to them in order to extract ransom, as in the case of the Dax hospital, but it can also be to steal users’ data in order to resell it, a very lucrative activity in the case of healthcare data.

The exactions of hackers are made possible by only one thing: the storage of user data in centralized databases.

By offering a fully decentralized identity solution with its Secure Digital Identity (SDI), XSL Labs will make attacks on the centralized databases of all companies and public institutions impossible. Indeed, in its solution, XSL Labs offers that each user be sovereign of his own identity in accordance with the principles of Self-Sovereign Identity (SSI) developed by Christopher Allen. User data will be owned only by themselves and stored in a completely decentralized way, in each user’s ID Wallets.

Ruthless attacks on centralized databases, such as those that recently took place against Dax hospital, will therefore cease immediately with the existence of these databases, and the SDI will allow each user to remain anonymous and in control of his identity at any time.

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