Massive Healthcare Network Hit By Cyberattack

Massive Healthcare Network Hit By Cyberattack

( – The Ascension Healthcare Network recently announced it had been the target of a cyberattack. The company issued multiple press releases this past week with updates, revealing on May 11 it was continuing its investigations into a “ransomware incident” and had notified law enforcement agencies, including the FBI and the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

Ascension first reported that on May 8, network employees noted “unusual activity” on systems, which they concluded were caused by a “cybersecurity event.” Ascension said it responded to the threat immediately, but some services and systems were impeded. Furthermore, the healthcare giant called upon the services of Mandiant – a Google-owned cybersecurity firm.

The MyChart digital medical record files and technology used to order tests and procedures were among the systems impacted and impaired. Therefore, some patient appointments had to be rescheduled. Ascension officials also explained that emergency cases were diverted to other hospitals. “We have implemented established protocols and procedures to address these particular system disruptions,” said a spokesperson.

When reporters first questioned the company about the nature of the attack and whether hackers demanded a ransom, the Ascension spokesperson said the matter was under investigation but subsequently referred to the incident as “a cyberattack.” However, the May 13 press release called the incident a “ransomware attack.”

A ransomware attack is one in which hackers demand money in exchange for restoring systems, and fellow healthcare provider Change Healthcare, a UnitedHealth Group subsidiary, was recently affected.

In February, the House Energy and Commerce Committee on Capitol Hill grilled a United Health Group (UHG) executive about its response to the attack. A ransomware group known as Black Cat had broken into UHG systems and encrypted some of its data, impacting hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies across the United States.

UnitedHealth CEO Andrew Witty told lawmakers that he paid $22 million to the hackers. However, subsequent investigations revealed that sensitive patient data was posted to the dark web despite the payment. Lawmakers slammed UHG for ineffective security, which Mr. Witty attributed to the company’s age, but he assured Congress it was taking steps to modernize.

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