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Hospitals Turning Away Patients Due to Ransomware Attack

Ransomware attacks intend to hold data hostage. They lock companies out of accessing their most vital data, usually by encrypting it or shutting down key systems, thus increasing the pressure and forcing them to pay the fee.

The amount of ransomware attacks happening across the global is only increasing, with many organisations finding that their backup solutions aren’t good enough to support a recovery.

However, it’s even more serious when these attacks hit organisations that are literally saving lives. This is the case in the United States, where three hospitals in Alabama have been forced to turn away all patients except those most critical due to a ransomware outbreak.

DCH Health System, which operates the three impacted hospitals, released a statement to say that their ability to use their computer systems has been limited by the attack and they don’t yet know what the payment figure is going to be.

Any new admissions are going to be redirected to other facilities and local ambulances have been told to take patients to other hospitals. Any patients with outpatient appointments were advised to ring the hospital before attending to see if they could still go ahead.

It’s not known who is responsible for the attack and there is no end date in sight. To target organisations out to make a profit is one thing; attacking a hospital and genuinely putting people’s lives in danger is another thing. If you wanted more evidence that ransomware attackers have no morals, this is it.

Seven hospitals in Australia have also been hit with ransomware. It’s not known whether it’s the same strain or if it’s been co-ordinated by the same group. The hospitals are based in Gippsland and south-west Victoria and, in a statement, one hospital operator said that some elective surgery and appointments had been cancelled.

The situation has meant that booking and management services, along with patient records, have been shut down. The government said that, where practical, the hospitals will be reverting to manual systems in order to maintain service.

They went on to add that in some cases, where important information like patient history or charts were more unavailable, it might be necessary to reschedule the appointments.

The media have been told by the Premier of Victoria that it could take weeks before the problem is fixed.

Ransomware attacks aren’t something that are going to go away, especially when large organisations can seemingly be easily targeted, and when many of them end up paying the ransom. It’s vital that your organisation reviews all of the security procedures and backup processes to ensure that they can effectively protect against a ransomware attack.

"Unfortunately the groups breaking into individual computers at organisations are becoming rapidly better at obtaining access across networks,” said Kevin Beaumont, a cyber-security expert.

Remember, even if an organisation does pay the fee, the ransomware attackers are under no obligation to actually return your data. Would you choose to trust a group that is purposely targeting hospitals and putting people’s lives at danger?


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