Hospital System with 400+ Locations Suffers Massive Cyberattack

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REUTERS/KACPER PEMPEL

Universal Health Services, a major hospital system with over 400 locations, faced a cyberattack over the weekend that shut down its internal records system. Doctors and nurses have been forced to use paper and pen to record patient records since the attack began. Cybersecurity analysts believe that the attack could be the largest medical cyberattack in the nation’s history.

According to a report by NBC News, Universal Health Services is facing a large-scale cyberattack that may put patient records at risk. If analysts are correct, the attack is potentially the largest cyberattack on a hospital system in U.S. history.

One analyst argued that the company’s response suggests that the attackers infected the system with ransomware. Ransomware encrypts files across a network and then demands a large sum from the victim to unlock their systems.

In a statement posted to its website, Universal Health Services said that it is currently working to restore its IT system. The company claimed that there is no evidence at this point that patient data has been accessed by hackers.

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

Computer security engineer Kenneth White said that shutting down hospital IT systems can have devastating consequences for patients. “When nurses and physicians can’t access labs, radiology or cardiology reports, that can dramatically slow down treatment, and in extreme cases, force re-routing for critical care to other treatment centers,” White said. “When these systems go down, there is the very real possibility that people can die.”

Breitbart News reported in July that the University of California, San Francisco, was forced to pay $1 million to remove ransomware that had locked down medical research conducted at the university.

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