Three hospitals in Alabama had to turn away patients after their systems were targeted by a ransomware variant labelled Ryuk, which was launched by an "unknown individual". The incident has forced shut down of all the IT systems and patients were asked to visit other hospitals unless they are the most critical in nature.

The three hospitals -- DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Fayette Medical Center and Northport Medical Center -- first reported the incident on October 1 and as of October 10, they were still working to restore their systems.

DCH Heath System said, "Our security experts have told us (that) the attackers are usually not interested in obtaining data. At this point, we have no indication that any patient or employee data has been misused or removed from our system."

It may be noted that recently, Emsisoft reported that there were a total of 491 ransomware attacks on healthcare providers in US, including Park DuValle Community Health Center, PerCSoft and Campbell County Health, besides two Canadian hospitals across the border.

In all, 621 government entities, healthcare service providers and school districts, colleges as well as universities were attacked by ransomware in US as of September, according to Emsisoft. Currently, cybercriminals are targeting software commonly used by MSPs and other third-party service providers said Emsisoft, including the case of ransomware attacks on 22 Texas towns.

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In Australia, a chain of Victorian hospitals were targeted in September by sophisticated hackers who launched a ransomware attack that disrupted surgeries and outpatient services, including rural health. While the affected hospitals reported to be working on their bookings and scheduling to minimise the impact on patients, many services remained unavailable due to no "computer access to patient histories, charts, images and other information," said a statement.

Even UK's National Health Service (NHS) computers are at the risk of cyberattacks as one million computers, approximately 76% of the total NHS PCs, could be vulnerable to cyber threats due to backdated software, according to some recent warnings.