2018 has kicked off with a string of ransomware attacks targeting hospitals, which is bad news for both medical professionals and patients.

Adams Memorial Hospital and Hancock Regional Hospital, both in Indiana were targeted as well as an electronic prescription company Allscripts.

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A ransomware called SamSam locked records, including patient files and gave the hospitals a countdown of seven days to pay a ransom. After which those files would be permanently deleted. The hackers demanded payment in the electronic Bitcoin currency in exchange for a key that would unlock the files.

The folks in charge at Hancock chose to pay a ransom of around $55,000 USD to unlock 1,400 files.  According to the Greenfield Reporter, the hospital says the files were backed up, but would have taken a long time to recover. They opted to pay the ransom for expediency.

It looks as if the crooks got into the Hancock hospital system by using the username and password of a vendor that the hospital deals with. Medical professionals handled the crisis by resorting to good old paper and pencil. Patients were locked out of the patient portal where patients are often directed to view things like test results.

I’m a little concerned as to why a hospital, of all places, doesn’t have their patient information backed up somewhere they can retrieve it in an emergency, but I suppose everyone has to live and learn.

Some lessons here:

You might want to have your own backups of your medical records if possible. Don’t be afraid to ask your healthcare provider exactly what they are doing to prevent ransomware attacks and if they have a contingency plan in place in case something happens.