FBI Investigating Cyber-Attack at Medstar Health
Hackers attacked the computer system at MedStar Health on Monday, forcing thousands of employees in the state’s second-largest health care provider to resort to paper medical records and transactions.
MedStar Health operates 10 regional hospitals and it quickly shut down all computer system interfaces to prevent the computer virus from spreading. No patient medical records or other information was compromised, they said. Medstar Health said all hospitals and clinical facilities remained open, though its 30,000 employees and 6,000 affiliated physicians couldn’t log in to the health care system’s computer network.
MedStar’s highest priorities are the safety of our patients and associates and confidentiality of information,” the nonprofit said in its statement. “We are working with law enforcement, our IT and Cyber-security partners to fully assess and address the situation.”
“There’s been a suspected cyberattack,” said Baltimore FBI spokesman David Fitz. Officials with another major health care provider, University of Maryland Medical Center, said they put in place added layers of security protection in response to the MedStar Health outage. A Baltimore computer security company Independent Security Evaluators, said the attack could affect patient care. The company studied hospital security and recently published a report on the vulnerability of medical devices and databases to cyberattack.
“Without access to that patient data they can’t administer care with the same level of effectiveness,” Harrington said. “Lack of availability does have implications for patient health.” While some MedStar services weren’t available Monday, doctors at its hospitals, including Union Memorial, Franklin Square Medical Center and Good Samaritan continued to see patients despite the attack.
The attack comes as hospitals have become a particular target of so-called ransomware attacks, in which hackers install software on a system that encrypts data so that users can no longer access it.
At Good Samaritan Hospital in Northeast Baltimore, the computers were down in the emergency department, at the desks of the security guards and nurses in the triage waiting room. The nurses were taking insurance information by hand on what one nurse described as one of the busiest days of the week.
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