Cyberattacks hitting hospitals both in the US and Australia have crippled facilities, holding vital patient data for ransom.
Around ten hospitals in the U.S. and Australia have been hit with ransomware attacks in the past week alone, according to reports, highlighting the need for operators of critical infrastructure to take the threat of cyberattacks seriously.
In the U.S., three hospitals in Alabama operated by DCH Health Systems were impacted, which reportedly “caused staff to close their doors to any new patients who weren’t critically ill,” according to a report from InfoSecurity-Magazine.
DCH Health System confirmed the breach in a statement posted on its website, adding that “Early October 1, the DCH Health System discovered that it had suffered a ransomware attack that impacted their systems. We immediately implemented emergency procedures to continue providing safe and patient-centered care,” they said.
“While access to computer systems remains limited, local ambulances are taking patients to other healthcare providers located nearby,” Sarah Coble is reporting, suggesting that the impacted hospitals are not yet operating at their full potential, days after the initial attack.
“Ransomware is foreseeable and preventable. Organisations need to have effective, advanced protection in place at every state of an attack.” - JJ Thompson.
The phenomenon of cyberattacks targeting hospitals was compounded by seven more attacks in Australia, where services at seven hospitals and healthcare centres was hindered by a wide scale cyberattack. Hackers targeted Gippsland and south-west Victoria earlier this week and infected their IT systems with ransomware, which cripples the impacted system until a ransom is paid - usually in the form of cryptocurrency - to the hacker.
According to reports, multiple computer systems were disconnected while the Victorian Cyber Incident Response Service worked on its investigation on seven of the South West Alliance of Rural Health’s facilities.
The Victorian government’s Department of Premier and Cabinet released a statement confirming the ransomware attacks, stating that “a number of servers across the state have been impacted. Investigations are still taking place on the full extent of the impact.”
“At this time, there is no suggestion that personal patient information has been accessed.”
“It’s also important to have off-site backups to reduce the pressure to comply with expensive ransom demands and to be able to recover faster.” JJ Thompson
J.J Thompson, senior director of managed threat response at Sophos told InfoSecurity-Mag that “ransomware is foreseeable and preventable. Organisations need to have effective, advanced protection in place at every state of an attack. The techniques, tactics and procedures that occur prior to a ransomware incident can and should be detected by existing security capabilities and are foundational pillars to the patient care model in healthcare 4.0.”
“It’s also important to have off-site backups to reduce the pressure to comply with expensive ransom demands and to be able to recover faster.”