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The Resource Center Online Security Issues & Protection The Resource Center | article

MedStar’s DC and MD Hospitals Shut Down By Virus

Cyberattack on health conglomerate MedStar Health Inc. may be ransomware.Georgetown University Hospital and other Washington and Maryland area hospitals were forced to revert to 1960s-era paper systems in order to continue treating patients when their computer systems were crippled by a virus.

The FBI said it is investigating a cyberattack on MedStar Health Inc. that moved patient records offline, shut down the appointments system and left hospital staff unable to open emails or check phone numbers.

This incident comes weeks after a California hospital experienced a similar shutdown due to ransomware and was coerced to pay around $17,000 to regain access to their systems.

It remains unclear whether the same scenario is now playing at MedStar and a company spokeswoman, Ann Nickels, declined to reveal whether it was in fact a ransomware attack. She did add that patient care was not affected and that hospital stuff continued to provide using a paper backup system.

MedStar operates 10 hospitals in Maryland and Washington, including Georgetown, employs 30,000 staff and is affiliated with 6,000 physicians.

Hospitals are seeing more and more of these types of attacks, especially since the health care industry's computer security is notoriously regarded as weak. And although hospitals are considered a critical part of our infrastructure, they're not required to disclose hackings even if operations are disrupted, unless patient data is compromised. The federal Health and Human Services Department regularly publishes a list of health care providers that have had patient information stolen in hacks if you're interested in looking.

Remember, no one can guarantee that your information will be safe, but when a data breach inevitably occurs be prepared. Get help managing risks to your data and identity with Identity Guard. Our identity theft protection services monitor your credit files, Social Security Number and public records to help you detect certain activity that may indicate fraud.

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