Eskenazi shuts down IT systems, diverts ambulances after ‘attempted ransomware attack’

Eskenazi Health shut down its data network and diverted ambulances Wednesday following what it called an “attempted ransomware attack,” the latest in a surge of hacks on hospital networks around the country.

The safety-net health system, which operates Eskenazi Hospital west of downtown, said Thursday that no patient or employee data was compromised.

Eskenazi Hospital operates a Level 1 trauma center, which is the highest level, certified to handle the most serious, life-threatening conditions. The hospital normally receives hundreds of ambulance deliveries a year.

The health system said its IT systems functioned properly, but it shut down the network to “maintain the safety and integrity of our patient care.”

“We are working system by system with a high level of due diligence to analyze all systems before bringing them back online,” Eskenazi Health said in a statement.

Eskenazi Health’s website remained down early Thursday afternoon.

Eskenazi spokesman Tom Surber said the decision to divert ambulance traffic to other hospitals was made “out of an abundance of caution.” The diversion began at around 8 a.m. Wednesday and remains in place, he said.

He did not provide details on the ransomware attack. He also did not say how doctors and nurses were recording patient information in the meantime, or whether they were able to pull up patients’ electronic records.

The ransomware attack on Eskenazi is just the latest hack that has hit hundreds of hospitals in recent years, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges.

Hackers typically gain entry to a computer system, encrypt the files that run it, and then demand payment for a decryption key to unlock access.

More than 1 in 3 health care organizations globally reported being hit by ransomware in 2020, according to a survey of IT professionals.

Cyberattacks against health care entities have risen 45 percent since November, and the sector accounted for 79 percent of all reported data breaches during the first 10 months of 2020, according to Health IT Security, an industry news site.

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3 thoughts on “Eskenazi shuts down IT systems, diverts ambulances after ‘attempted ransomware attack’

  1. Slashdot aka “News for Nerds” is discussing this right now. Someone is getting a free ride — specifically, Microsoft. The news folks are reporting, “There were 3 more ransomware attacks today, totaling $50M” instead of “There were 3 more Windows ransomware attacks today, totaling $50M”. Microsoft’s stock isn’t tanking, they aren’t losing market share, and Congress isn’t interrogating anyone. This last item may not be such a bad thing, as Congress has no problems with lawyers writing their queries or doing the actual questioning for legal issues, but when it comes to tech, they believe because they know how to play Windows Solitaire, they can hold a technical inquiry.
    .
    Unless & until Microsoft starts getting on the ball, then it’s left up to you, the business folks, to start cracking the whip. Go to Wikipedia and read up on, “electronic authentication”. If it doesn’t make sense, find someone who can understand it and translate it into English – and I’m not talking about your CIO or CTO. If your business is exposed, they’re part of the problem and will either tell you, “we’re fine” or … well, they aren’t going to tell you, “any day now, we’re going to walk in and find ourselves twisting in the breeze” are they? (They’re going to lie)
    .
    What nFA (n-Factor Authentication) are you using? How current is your version of Windows? (the fact it would cost you an arm and a leg to frequently update it is no excuse) How often are things backed up? How many people have access to any userid/password? If someone has a job which only requires them to only have a browser open, all they have to do is click a bad link and you’re toast – put them on Apple or Linux…Are you running Avast? (it’s better than not)
    .
    Unless & until Microsoft fixes Windows or until there’s a successful class action lawsuit against Microsoft…

    1. To be clear, you are holding MSFT accountable for human error now?

      The only real solution to fully resolve this is to go 100% AI and we all just sit at home while the computers do the work…

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