A string of hospitals in both the US and Australia have come under attack by hackers in recent weeks. They have been targeted by ransomware attacks that have effectively shut a number of them down. As of the time this article was written, the Northport Medical center, Fayette Medical Center, and DCH Regional Medical Center in Alabama have only limited access to their computing systems.
A spokesman for the hospitals had this to say about the attack:
"The three hospitals of the DCH Health System have experienced a ransomware attack. A criminal is limiting our ability to use our computer systems in exchange for an as-yet-unknown payment. That said, we feel it is in the best interest of patient safety that DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical center are closed to all but the most critical new patients. Our staff is caring for the patients who are currently in the hospital and we have no plans to transfer current patients. Unfortunately, the damage to our computer system was such that we are unable to recover the data stored there and, with our backup system encrypted as well, we cannot rebuild our medical records."
The situation is hardly better in Australia, where a total of seven hospitals were impacted.
A spokesman for the hospitals in Australia had this to say:
"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 such as internet to quarantine the infection."
Like the American hospitals, the infected Australian hospitals have lost access to their patient records, booking and management systems and have fallen back to keeping manual records to maintain some level of functionality.
This is a serious, coordinated attack and is no doubt a harbinger of things to come. Lives are very definitely at risk and unfortunately, as the hackers refine their approach, their attacks are only going to get more devastating. Dark times for cybersecurity lay ahead.