(RepublicanNews.org) – Emergency rooms in at least three states were shut down on Monday, November 27th, after suffering a cyber-attack.
Ardent Health, responsible for 30 hospitals across Oklahoma, New Mexico and Texas, said it was forced to shut down due to a ransomware attack over the Thanksgiving weekend. Patients were diverted to other hospitals while the company shut down computerized services during the attack.
The company said it had rescheduled non-emergent, elective procedures while prioritizing urgent treatments. The effected chains were Hillcrest HealthCare, Lovelace Health, and UT Health.
In a statement, Ardent Health said the cyber-attack had affected programs which track patients’ medical records among others. In addition to a “compromise” of financial data, Ardent said it “cannot confirm the extent” of any implications to the data of patient health. As a result of the attack, the company has reported the issue to law enforcement while working with specialist advisors.
The number of ransomware attacks on hospitals has gradually increased in recent years, with cybersecurity analyst Brett Callow reporting that there have been at least 35 in American hospitals in 2023. They typically occur over holiday periods where hackers believe there to be fewer security staff at work, thus making a breach hypothetically easier. Federal advice is for victims of ransomware attacks not to agree to any demands in exchange for the safe return of data.
Despite more than 300 documented attacks on healthcare providers since 2020, Ardent is reportedly the largest operator hit so far. Earlier this year, St Margaret’s Health in Illinois shut down partly as a result of a cyber-attack.
No one has ever died as a result of such an event. That said, studies show a link between attacks and mortality rates in impacted hospitals due to the disruption they cause.
Ardent confirmed that it was still assessing the “full impact” of the attack, although the company refrained from providing an estimation on how long this process may take.
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