Ten hospitals across the United States and Australia were victims of ransomware attacks that hijacked computer systems, forcing some of the hospitals to turn away all but the most critical patients.
Ars Technica reports that ten hospitals, three in Alabama and seven in Australia, were victims of ransomware attacks that hijacked computer systems and stopped them from admitting new patients. All three hospitals that comprise the DCH Health System in Alabama were closed to new patients as officials attempted to deal with the paralyzing computer system attack.
The DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Northport Medical Center, and Fayette Medical Center were all turning away “all but the most critical new patients” this week. Ambulances were instructed to take patients to other nearby hospitals when possible.
DCH representatives wrote in a release: “A criminal is limiting our ability to use our computer systems in exchange for an as-yet unknown payment. Our hospitals have implemented our emergency procedures to ensure safe and efficient operations in the event technology dependent on computers is not available.”
Ransomware attacks are designed to encrypt hard drives and lock individuals out of their computer until they pay a ransom, usually sent via cryptocurrency, to the attacker. Seven hospitals in Australia were also affected by the cyber attack.
Hospitals in Gippsland and southwest Victoria said that they were rescheduling some patient services as they responded to a “cyber health incident.” Hospital officials said in a statement: “The cyber incident, which was uncovered on Monday, has blocked access to several systems by the infiltration of ransomware, including financial management. Hospitals have isolated and disconnected a number of systems… to quarantine the infection.”
Hospital officials stated that they were working with the police and the Australian Cyber Security Center to deal with the incident but computer systems at the seven hospitals remained locked 24 hours after the cyber attack. One official stated that it would take weeks to secure and restore damaged networks.