Last week, we made you aware of the ransomware attack at the 217-bed Methodist Hospital, a critical care facility in Kentucky. This attack caused the facility to declare a state of emergency, and now the same thing has happened again. This time in Maryland and Washington, D.C.
According to reports, portions of the hospital chain MedStar Health were hit by a major malware attack this past Monday.
The attack made the facility's computer system practically inoperable by forcing the shutdown of its three main clinical systems. Since the attack, patients have been turned away and systems are very slowly coming back online.
In a recent statement, officials from the healthcare facility stated that no patient records had been compromised. The hospital is also not acknowledging that ransomware was involved. However, the Washington Post has reported that employees of the hospital saw pop ups on their screens requesting payment of in the amount of 45 bitcoins (a form of digital currency, which is the equivalent of $19,000) in exchange for the decryption key.
MedStar Health and Methodist Hospital aren't the only healthcare facilities that were recently targeted by hackers. Back in February, patient records from the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, California, were also targeted. Bottom line, it's a growing trend that we all should be concerned about.
So far, the hackers have only strong-armed these hospitals into paying the ransom in exchange for the decryption key. But it might not be long before it becomes something more. A recent experiment by a Baltimore-based research team exposed just how poorly protected the data systems in most health facilities are. The group discovered that not only could the facility's records be hacked, they could tamper with monitoring machines, security systems and even blood work results.
For now, we'll just have to hope that a solution can be found quickly before it escalates and more healthcare facilities become victims.