NATIONAL NEWS

Cyberattack keeps hospitals’ computers offline for weeks

Aug 18, 2023, 1:26 PM

A man leaves the Los Angeles Community Hospital in Los Angeles on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Hospitals, ...

A man leaves the Los Angeles Community Hospital in Los Angeles on Friday, Aug. 4, 2023. Hospitals, including this one, and clinics in several states on Friday began the time-consuming process of recovering from a cyberattack that disrupted their computer systems, forcing some emergency rooms to shut down and ambulances to be diverted. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

MANCHESTER, Conn. (AP) — Key computer systems at hospitals and clinics in several states have yet to come back online more than two weeks after a cyberattack that forced some emergency room shutdowns and ambulance diversions.

Progress is being made “to recover critical systems and restore their integrity,” Prospect Medical Holdings said in a Friday statement. But the company, which runs 16 hospitals and dozens of other medical facilities in California, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas, could not say when operations might return to normal.

“We do not yet have a definitive timeline for how long it will be before all of our systems are restored,” spokeswoman Nina Kruse said in a text message. “The forensic investigation is still underway and we are working closely with law enforcement officials.”

The recovery process can often take weeks, with hospitals in the meantime reverting to paper systems and people to monitor equipment, run records between departments and do other tasks usually handled electronically, John Riggi, the American Hospital Association’s national advisor for cybersecurity and risk, said at the time of the breach.

The attack, which was announced Aug. 3, had all the hallmarks of extortive ransomware but officials would neither confirm nor deny this. In such attacks, criminals steal sensitive data from targeted networks, activate encryption malware that paralyzes them and demand ransoms.

The FBI advises victims not to pay ransoms as there is no guarantee the stolen data won’t eventually be sold on dark web criminal forums. Paying ransoms also encourages the criminals and finances attacks, Riggi said.

As a result of the attack, some elective surgeries, outpatient appointments, blood drives and other services are still postponed.

Eastern Connecticut Health Network, which includes Rockville General and Manchester Memorial hospitals as well as a number of clinics and primary care providers, was running Friday on a temporary phone system.

Waterbury Hospital has been using paper records in place of computer files since the attack but is no longer diverting trauma and stroke patients to other facilities, spokeswoman Lauresha Xhihani told the Republican-American newspaper.

“PMH physicians, nurses, and staff are trained to provide care when our electronic systems are not available,” Kruse wrote. “Delivering safe, quality care is our most important priority.”

Globally, the health care industry was the hardest-hit by cyberattacks in the year ending in March, according to IBM’s annual report on data breaches. For the 13th straight year it reported the most expensive breaches, averaging $11 million each. Next was the financial sector at $5.9 million.

Health care providers are a common target for criminal extortionists because they have sensitive patient data, including histories, payment information, and even critical research data, Riggi said.

National News

Actor Alec Baldwin reacts during his trial for involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 fatal shooting...

Associated Press

Case dismissed against Alec Baldwin in fatal shooting of cinematographer

A nearly three-year legal saga for Alec Baldwin in the fatal shooting of a cinematographer ended Friday with the actor cleared of wrongdoing.

1 hour ago

FILE - Leaders take their seats for a meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Council during the NATO summit in...

Associated Press

With words, deeds and arms deals, allies make the case for NATO in terms that would appeal to Trump

WASHINGTON (AP) — European allies in NATO are stepping up their military spending, just as Donald Trump wanted. They’re pointing to common interests, such as concerns over China. They’re creating American jobs by buying U.S. weapons. In words, deeds and arms deals, leaders of the United States’ partners in NATO are making the case for […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Members of the Henderson Fire Department load Deb Billet, 66, into an ambulance before trans...

Associated Press

Things to know about heat deaths as a dangerously hot summer shapes up in the western US

PHOENIX (AP) — A dangerously hot summer is shaping up in the U.S. West, with heat suspected in dozens of recent deaths, including retirees in Oregon, a motorcyclist in Death Valley, California and a 10-year-old boy who collapsed while hiking with his family on a Phoenix trail. Heat is the top cause of weather-related fatalities […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

The UN condemns increasing gang violence and criminal activity in Haiti that is undermining peace

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. Security Council unanimously approved a resolution condemning “in the strongest terms” the increasing gang violence and criminal activity in Haiti that is undermining peace, stability and security in the country and the region. Friday’s resolution expresses grave concern at illegal arms and ammunition flowing into Haiti and their link […]

8 hours ago

FILE - U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres listens to a speech during the opening of the High-L...

Associated Press

UN chief urges funds for Palestinians, saying Israel is forcing Gazans ‘to move like human pinballs’

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations chief appealed for funding Friday for the beleaguered U.N. agency helping Palestinian refugees in Gaza and elsewhere in the Middle East, accusing Israel of issuing evacuation orders that force Palestinians “to move like human pinballs across a landscape of destruction and death.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a donor’s […]

9 hours ago

Meals on Wheels employees take advantage of an assembly line to prepare bags of food for clients, F...

Associated Press

Houston community groups strain to keep feeding and cooling a city battered by repeat storms

HOUSTON (AP) — The deafening hum of a generator was a welcome noise Thursday evening at a Houston independent living center where several dozen seniors had lost power in the wake of Hurricane Beryl. Joe and Terri Hackl, who had pulled up with the backup electricity source after delivering hundreds of meals all day, estimate […]

10 hours ago

Cyberattack keeps hospitals’ computers offline for weeks