- Universal Health Services, a hospital chain with more than 250 locations in the US, was affected by a cyber attack that has caused its computer and phone systems to fail.
- The attack, first reported by the blapping computer, is a sign of a ransomware attack, in which hackers hijack an organization’s system and refuse to turn it on until the victim pays a huge ransom. .
- UHS, one of the largest hospital chains in the country, reportedly had to cancel surgeries and Reroteb ambulances as it folded to address a cyber attack.
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An unprecedented cyber attack against one of the largest hospital chains in America has compromised computer and phone systems in hundreds of hospitals this week.
Universal Health Services, which operates more than 250 hospitals across North America, began experiencing an outage on Sunday night that excluded all employees from the computer system and prevented them from logging back in. gave.
Those days continue, forcing hospitals across the US to postpone surgery and divert ambulances. UHS President Mark Miller told the Wall Street Journal on Monday evening that UHS shut down its own system after it detected a hack to prevent further damage, causing some operations to be delayed.
Miller said no patients were harmed when some of the hospital’s operations were disrupted.
UHS said in a statement on Monday that its systems were affected by an “IT security issue” and that no patient data has been compromised. The company said on Tuesday morning with another statement that it was working to restore its system but some “clinical and financial” operations were still disrupted.
According to UHS employees speaking to Blapping Computer, the attack appears to bear the signature symptoms of the ransomware attack. Ransomware attackers use malicious code to compromise an organization’s computer systems and then demand payment to regain victims.
Ransomware attacks have been steadily increasing in recent years, and hospitals are a major target. According to a Microsoft report, attacks against hospitals have increased between COVID-19, as hospitals turn to new, unfamiliar telemedicine platforms and are increasingly cash-strapped during the epidemic.
Hackers see hospitals as valuable targets because their systems are important to the well-being of patients, making them more likely to pay ransom. In addition, patients’ health statistics are considered valuable, according to Torsten George, an analyst at cybercity firm Centrifai.
“The UHS incident is the latest in a string of healthcare-focused ransomware attacks,” George told Business Insider. “Hospital arrangements are critical to the mission, and with many lives at stake, healthcare organizations are more likely to pay a ransom to get up and running faster.”
According to cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies – including the FBI – the goal should be to avoid giving ransom at all costs to put hackers out of business.