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UNIVERSAL HEALTH SERVICES, a hospital and health care network with more than 400 facilities across the United States, Puerto Rico, and United Kingdom, suffered a ransomware attack early Sunday morning that has taken down its digital networks at locations around the US. As the situation has spiraled, some patients have reportedly been rerouted to other emergency rooms and facilities and had appointments and test results delayed as a result of the attack.

An emergency room technician at one UHS-owned facility tells WIRED that their hospital has moved to all-paper systems as a result of the attack. Bleeping Computer, which first reported the news, spoke to UHS employees who said the ransomware has the hallmarks of Ryuk, which first appeared in 2018 and is widely linked to Russian cybercriminals. Ryuk is typically used in so-called “big-game hunting” attacks in which hackers attempt to extort large ransoms from corporate victims. UHS says it has 90,000 employees and treats about 3.5 million patients each year, making it one of the US’ largest hospital and health care networks.

“We are using paper for everything. All computers are completely shut down,” the UHS employee told WIRED. “Paper is workable, there is just a lot more documentation to be done so things don’t get lost—orders, meds, etc. Patient care is about the same still in the ER, since we are where the patient enters the hospital and the visit gets started. There is concern for patients who were already on the floors when this happened, but everyone is stepping up their game big time.”

“Our facilities are using their established back-up processes, including offline documentation methods,” UHS said in a statement. The company did not return a request for further comment from WIRED and would not confirm that it is a ransomware attack. The company’s statement did confirm that the “IT network across Universal Health Services facilities is currently offline, due to an IT security issue,” and that patient and employee data appear not to have been compromised in the attack.

Ransomware attacks on large organizations have been prevalent since the mid-2010s, but the pace of assaults seems to have increased in recent months. Hospitals, in particular, have long been a favorite target, because patient safety hangs in the balance when a hospital’s network goes down. In addition to UHS, the Ashtabula County Medical Center in Ohio and Nebraska Medicine have both suffered ransomware attacks in recent days that caused system outages and threatened patient services.

 

 

Source: A Ransomware Attack Has Struck a Major US Hospital Chain | WIRED







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