Cyberattack Disables Hospital for Days

Cyberattack Disables Hospital for Days

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Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago has been disabled by a cyberattack for over a week, blocking doctors and nurses from accessing digital patient records, and even limiting the ability of parents to communicate with the caregivers of their children.

Hospital officials told reporters that a “known criminal threat actor” had accessed the hospital’s network, and they are working with the FBI and other law enforcement on the matter.

According to Techxplore, the hospital shut down its own phone, email, and medical record systems once the breach was discovered. The hospital’s chief medical officer Dr. Marcelo Malakooti has stated: “We take this matter very seriously and have been working closely around the clock with outside and internal experts and in collaboration with law enforcement, including the FBI. This is an active and ongoing investigation.”

This attack reportedly had all the characteristics of a ransomware attack, although hospital officials have not confirmed or denied this. Such extortion-style attacks popularly include ransomware gangs seeking financial gain by locking data, records, or other critical information to then demand money to release it back to the owner.

Last year’s report by the US Department of Health and Human Services warned that health care providers are increasingly being targeted by criminals, causing delayed or disrupted care for patients. Emsisoft cybersecurity threat analyst Brett Callow explained that it can take several weeks for a hospital to restore normal operations after a cyberattack, while prioritizing critical systems first of course.

Chicago-area pediatrician practices that work with the hospital also have reported being unable to access digital medical records because of the attack. According to the latest annual report for Lurie Children’s Hospital said that the hospital’s staff treated approximately 260,000 patients in 2023.