- Universal Health Services, a chain of hospitals with more than 250 branches in the United States, suffered a cyber attack that caused its computer and telephone systems to malfunction.
- The attack was originally reported by Bleeping Computer, with signs of a ransomware attack, in which a hacker hijacked an organization’s system and refused to hand it over unless the victim paid a high ransom.
- According to reports, UHS is one of the largest hospital chains in the United States. It had to cancel the operation and reschedule the ambulance after scrambling to resolve the cyber attack.
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This week, an unprecedented cyber attack on one of the largest hospital chains in the United States has compromised the computer and telephone systems of hundreds of hospitals.
According to Bleeping Computer’s first report, Universal Health Services has more than 250 hospitals in North America. Service interruptions began to occur on Sunday night. All employees logged out of the computer system and prevented them from logging in again.
These interruptions have been going on for several days, forcing hospitals across the United States to postpone surgery and transfer ambulances. UHS President Mark Miller told the Wall Street Journal on Monday night that UHS shut down its system after detecting a hacker intrusion to prevent further damage, which caused certain operations to be delayed.
Miller added that although the functions of some hospitals were disrupted, no patients were harmed by the power outage.
UHS said in a statement on Monday that its systems were affected by “IT security issues” and no patient data was compromised. The company issued another statement on Tuesday morning stating that it is working to restore its system, but certain “clinical and financial” operations have still been interrupted.
According to UHS employees who spoke to Bleeping Computer, the attack appeared to have characteristics of a ransomware attack. Ransomware attackers use malicious code to damage the organization’s computer systems, and then demand payment from victims to regain access.
In recent years, ransomware attacks have become more frequent and hospitals have become the main targets. According to a report from Microsoft, attacks on hospitals have increased during COVID-19 as hospitals switched to new, unfamiliar telemedicine platforms and were short of cash during the pandemic.
Hackers see hospitals as important targets because the hospital’s systems are critical to the health of patients, which makes them more likely to pay the ransom. In addition, Torsten George, an analyst at the cybersecurity company Centrify, believes that patient health data is also valuable.
George told Business Insider, “The UHS incident is the latest in a series of ransomware attacks on healthcare.” “Hospital systems are mission-critical. In many lives at risk, medical institutions have become more likely to pay ransoms quickly. Resume operation.”
According to cybersecurity experts and law enforcement agencies (including the FBI), targets should avoid paying ransoms at all costs to bankrupt hackers.