LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The Federal Bureau of Investigation warns the critical daily functions of hospitals are at increased risk of being hacked.

Hospitals and health care organizations are vulnerable targets for a cyber-attack, lagging behind other industries in cyber-readiness.

The FBI has warned of “an increased and imminent cybercrime threat to U.S. hospitals.”

Lt. Allen Larsen with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police says the threat across health care organizations in Clark County is real.

“With the health care sector, and we have seen a huge increase in the amount of attacks that are targeting our healthcare partners. We’ve even had some local hospitals and clinics here in Clark County that have been victims of cyberattacks,” Lt. Larsen said.

A worrisome aspect is that critical health care components, from CT scans, to medical devices, to the refrigerators that store blood for surgery, could be compromised.

“What would be the very worst-case scenario, is if they were able to compromise in such a way, that they’re able to shut off power, or shut down the systems that are providing this critical care to those patients, that would be the most devastating thing,” he added.

Electronic health record systems are also now the normal for private patient information.

“If that gets compromised, now you can re-victimize those patients,” Lt. Larsen added.

He encourages cloud-based servers to keep a layer of separation from on-premise servers, endpoint protection for computers attached to company networks, and firewalls requiring double verification for patient portal records.

“We also have a healthcare working group where we work with the information security officers from the different healthcare, hospitals, things like that to be able to give them pointers on how they can help increase their infrastructure so they don’t become victims of a cyberattack,” Lt. Larsen tells 8 News Now.

Experts also warn the time is now for a shift in the thinking and planning of a hospital’s cyber defense, with a far greater value being placed on cybersecurity.

“In the health care sector, it’s of the utmost importance,” Lt. Larsen added.