Healthcare Information Security

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Ransomware Attack Impacts EHR of Rhode Island Provider

Thundermist Health Center was hit by a ransomware attack on Thursday, cancelling appointments that would impact patient safety without EMR access.

ransomware attack causes EMR outage

By Jessica Davis

- Rhode Island-based Thundermist Health Center was hit by a ransomware attack early Thursday, impacting some patient care.

According to its website, officials acted quickly to contain the attack and were able to protect patient data and continue routine care due to their emergency plan. However, while normal operations continued during the attack, appointments that could not be completed safely without electronic health record access were canceled.

Staff were locked out of several computer systems and those not impacted by the virus were shut down to prevent proliferation, officials told local news outlet WPRI.

Officials are working with the Rhode Island State Police and Rhode Island Department of Health and expected access to be fully restored by the weekend.

This is the second ransomware attack in the past two weeks to interrupt care access at a healthcare provider. A cyberattack on East Ohio Regional Hospital and Ohio Valley Medical Center last weekend interrupted emergency care services. Those patients had to be diverted to other area hospitals.

While recent Proofpoint research found that ransomware attacks have significantly dropped in recent months, healthcare is still one of the biggest targets. Phishing is one of the most frequent attack points. However, ransomware variants like SamSam are able to get in without human interaction, through brute force attacks on remote desktop protocols.

The Department of Health and Human Services, the FBI and security researchers all warn not to pay the ransom. Organizations should maintain offline backups to restore files and return to normal operation.


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