Benjamin Shultz

Disinformation & Artificial Intelligence Researcher


Curriculum vitae




Responding to Ransomware in the Healthcare & Public Health Critical Infrastructure Sector


Working together with his colleague from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University, Erin Hodges, Ben sought to examine the sharp rise in ransomware attacks against healthcare and public health organizations in recent years, and propose a policy solution in response. The team proposed several robust regulatory and legal changes at the federal level, which would expand compliance with the NIST cybersecurity framework at the state, local, and organizational levels, noting that, particularly in rural or low-staff settings, IT compliance officers in healthcare and public health organizations often are not required to be licensed or undergo any formal training.

Ben and Erin's policy proposal addresses this gap with the creation of a federally-run cybersecurity training program designed specifically for healthcare and public health settings. Moreover, given the vast disparities in cybersecurity risk prevention frameworks between healthcare and public health organizations in different localities (with a particular focus on states which have adopted the NIST framework as a standard and states which haven't), as a further "motivator," the team also proposed changes to HIPAA which would more heavily penalize breaches of protected health information tied to NIST noncompliance.

Ben and Erin together proudly placed in the Global Top-10 amongst teams participating in the 2021 Cybersecurity Awareness Worldwide (CSAW'21) Policy Competition at New York University.



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