Hospital Investigating Significant ‘Ransomware Event’

Hospital Investigating Significant ‘Ransomware Event’
File Photo

BERLIN—Officials at Atlantic General Hospital are working with cybersecurity experts following a ransomware incident identified on Sunday.

While the majority of hospital services remain unaffected, Atlantic General Hospital (AGH) is experiencing a “ransomware event” within its network, Toni Keiser, vice president of public relations, confirmed Monday.

“We are working diligently to investigate the source of this disruption, confirm its impact on our systems, and to restore full functionality to our systems as soon as possible,” she said. “The incident has caused network outage issues with limited patient interruption.”

Hospital officials became aware of the ransomware attack Sunday morning, when they were notified by AGH’s information technology department. Since then, the hospital has been working with specialists around the clock to “investigate the incident and restore our systems to full functionality.” When asked if patient records were at risk, Keiser said the investigation into the incident was ongoing.

“We assure you that the privacy and security of all information entrusted to us is one of our top priorities,” she said. “We will provide additional material information as it becomes available.”

According to Keiser, AGH is working with subject matter specialists and “appropriate authorities” to investigate the incident. There is not yet a timeline as far as when full functionality will be restored, she said.

Keiser noted AGH has continuity plans in place to safely care for patients in the hospital and maintain hospital operations utilizing downtime procedures. The hospital’s emergency room continues to treat patients and AGH will continue with elective surgeries and other outpatient procedures. Services not operational at this time include RediScripts, the hospital out-patient walk-in lab, pulmonary function testing and outpatient imaging.

Ransomware attacks, which typically involve locking and encrypting the victim’s data until a ransom payment is made, are becoming more and more frequent. According to a recent report from the Department of Health and Human Services’ Healthcare Cybersecurity Coordination Center, cyberthreats to the healthcare industry were a growing cause for concern in 2022.

“Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and often both together, continued to be prevalent attacks against the health sector,” the report reads. “Ransomware operators continued to evolve their techniques and weapons for increasing extortion pressure and maximizing their payday. Vulnerabilities in software and hardware platforms, some ubiquitous and some specific to healthcare, continued to keep the attack surface of healthcare organizations wide open.”

About The Author: Charlene Sharpe

Alternative Text

Charlene Sharpe has been with The Dispatch since 2014. A graduate of Stephen Decatur High School and the University of Richmond, she spent seven years with the Delmarva Media Group before joining the team at The Dispatch.