Wednesday, 19 December, 2018

FBI investigating cyber attack on U.S. hospital group Medstar

Sherri Watson | 08 April, 2016, 14:27

So far, MedStar is quiet as to the complete nature of the system malfunctions, though some unnamed personnel said that all their operations are paralyzed since they are dependent on the system.

MedStar Health, which operates 10 hospitals serving the Baltimore-Washington region, was the target of a cyber attack Monday morning.

A spokesperson for the local hospital said she could not speak about the virus attack, but referred media questions to Ann C. Nickels, MedStar Health assistant vice president for PR and communications.

The FBI says it's investigating a computer virus that has crippled information systems at the major Washington-area hospital chain MedStar Health Inc. "MedStar acted quickly with a decision to take down all system interfaces to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the organization", the system said in a statement released on Twitter. The FBI is investigating the incident. The computers remained down for the second day in a row, but the management insists that the systems have been deliberately powered down to prevent the computer virus from spreading and causing more harm.

Although hospitals are considered to be critical infrastructure, cyber security in the U.S. hospital sector is generally regarded as poor, according to reports.

MedStar Health said there is no evidence information has been compromised. "The organization has moved to back-up systems, paper transactions where necessary", the company added.

Many providers in the Capital Beltway found themselves working with paper records as a result of EHR downtime caused by a ransomware virus on the MedStar Health network, according to multiple reports.

There were few signs of the attack's effects easing late Monday, with one employee at Georgetown University Hospital saying systems were still down, and saying some managers had to stay late and come in early because of the disruptions.

The organisation said it is continuing to provide medical services and said continuing with elective procedures would be determined on a case-by-case basis.

In one case last month, a hospital in Los Angeles paid hackers $17,000 in bitcoins, to free its system.