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Hospitals in California, Indiana Report Malware, Ransomware Attacks

April 4, 2016
by Heather Landi
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Alvarado Hospital Medical Center in San Diego and Kings Daughters Health in southeast Indiana last week reported malware attacks to hospital computers and said swift response times may have minimized any damage, according to local news reports.

In an article in The San Diego Union-Tribune March 31st, Alvarado Hospital Medical Center spokeswoman Laura Gilbert confirmed that the hospital is “resolving a malware disruption” but did not specify which systems were affected at the 306-bed hospital.

The news follows reports of a cyber attack on the 10-hospital MedStar Health system on March 28, as reported by Healthcare Informatics, followed by an article March 31 by Healthcare Informatics' Managing Editor Rajiv Leventhal reporting that the attack was ransomware.

The article, written by Paul Sisson with The San Diego Union-Tribune, states that two weeks ago Prime Healthcare Services, which owns Alvarado and 41 other hospitals across 14 states, detected malicious software infections at two of its California facilities — Chino Valley Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville — on Mar. 18. “Prime declined to say Thursday whether the current situation at Alvarado is a separate infection or a consequence of its malware-fighting efforts at the two northern facilities. While Prime says it has paid no ransoms in any of the incidents,” the article stated.

The article also stated, “In a statement to The San Diego Union-Tribune, Alvarado said the hospital and its parent company, Prime Healthcare Services, have ‘taken extraordinary steps to protect and expeditiously find a resolution to this disruption’ but does not say what kind of trouble the infection has caused. Alvarado and Prime insist that neither patient nor employee records have been compromised.”

The article also quoted Gilbert as saying, “The hospital remains fully operational, and no patients have been turned away. All significant clinical systems needed for operations are fully functional. Our IT team took great efforts to protect and restore our systems and a ransom was never paid.”

And, according to the same media report, the Federal Bureau of Investigation confirmed two weeks ago that it is investigating the Chino and Victorville attacks.” On Thursday FBI Special Agent Darrell Foxworth confirmed that the federal government is also involved in the Alvarado incident,” the article stated.

In southeast Indiana, WSCH radio reported last week that Kings Daughter Health in Madison, Indiana that the hospital intentionally shut down all computer systems Wednesday morning after a single user’s files were infected with ransomware. “KDH says all patient data remains secure and has been affected or compromised, according to Linda Darnell, senior director of information technology at KDH,” the radio station report stated.

The article also stated, “The hospital system will restart its computer systems once it is safe to do so. In the meantime, KDH is using manual processes to continue operations. Hospital leaders are crediting education and awareness about ongoing email and cyber threats for allowing KDH employees to act swiftly once the virus was discovered in an email that appeared legitimate.”

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