Ransomware reportedly to blame for outage at US hospital chain

Health care provider Universal Health Services, one of the largest chains in the US, has been hit by an apparent ransomware attack, TechCrunch reported. UHS facilities in California, Florida, North Dakota, Arizona, and other locations began noticing problems early Sunday, with some locations reporting locked computers and phone systems.

Some UHS hospitals had to use pen and paper to file patient information as a result, according to NBC News.

The hospital system, which has more than 400 locations in the US and the UK, said in a statement on Monday that its IT network across several facilities was offline “due to an IT security issue.” No patient or employee data appears to have been compromised, according to the statement, which did not mention malware or ransomware.

“We implement extensive IT security protocols and are working diligently with our IT security partners to restore IT operations as quickly as possible,” the statement reads. “In the meantime, our facilities are using their established back-up processes including offline documentation methods.”

Hospitals are frequent targets for cyberattacks, and health care systems are often not adequately prepared. Earlier this month, a woman died during a ransomware attack on Duesseldorf University Hospital in Germany when she had to be moved to another facility. That incident is believed to be the first-ever patient death due to a cyberattack on a health care facility. Most famously, hospitals across the UK were shut down in 2017 after North Korea unleashed the WannaCry ransomware across the globe.

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