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Major Hospitals in the U.S. in shambles after a massive cyberattack

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Major hospitals in the US went into shutdown after a massive cyberattack

Universal Health Services systems in hospitals around the U.S. reportedly went into shutdown after suspected ransomware landed on their computers. The attack was noticed when several computers went down on the weekend. The staff mentioned that the computers’ processes slowed and then shut down. UHS manages around 400 hospitals both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Still, it was only the U.S. that was affected, according to a UHS spokesperson. 

 A Possible Ransomware Attack

NBC News reported that they came into communication with a person who works closely for UHS and is familiar with the attack’s protocols and response saying that it is most likely ransomware. This cannot be proven yet as of the moment.

 Ransomware is malware that infects a computer and prompts a message that says that there is a fee to be paid to retrieve your computer systems and make it work again. 

 This is mostly used in moneymaking schemes by cybercriminals, which can be easily installed through deceptive links in emails, instant messages, or even websites. 

 These hackers seem to have familiarity with staffing schedules and often deploy their attacks on a weekend when fewer technical staff are present in a company due to days off.

 The system breakdown lasted for days, which forced the hospitals to improvise on how they carry on their daily operations. Staff relied on using paper and pen and doing various functions manually as they weren’t allowed to turn on their computers and check on it. Some systems, such as those related to patients’ medications, are kept and watched online though it is backed up using the patient’s chart. It was found to be a challenge for the staff. Shifts of personnel, which are essential in a hospital, are managed through a computer system and can’t be accessed. They migrated to an app called Shifthound to communicate with each other and manage their schedules. 

 Leveraging on Patients Life

April this year, Interpol announced on its website the increasing number of cyberattacks in hospitals and healthcare institutions concerning the COVID-19 response. Hackers have been leveraging on hospitals’ vulnerability to these attacks as they are also tied to the patients’ health condition, which may be affected should the computer systems fail. In an interview, Torsten George, an analyst at a cybersecurity firm, told Business Insider that hospitals are most like to pay up these ransoms as computer system failures may cost their patients’ lives. 

Cybersecurity experts and even the FBI suggests that targets should not pay up these ransoms at all cost to cut the hackers off their business. But when there is life on the line, it can prove challenging, especially to the one who’s making the calls. At present, there are still people taking advantage of the dire situation we are all in, and everyone in the healthcare industry should be wary of these inconveniences.

An engineer by profession, a writer by calling.

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