Sophisticated hackers behind ransomware attack force Victorian hospitals to go offline

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Cyber security Pixabay

Health industry is one of the most favorite sectors for cyber criminals and every day such threats are increasing. In a recent incident, Victorian hospitals in Australia were targeted by sophisticated hackers who launched a ransomware attack that caused considerable delay in surgeries and outpatient services.

It was also reported that hospitals which are part of the Gippsland Health Alliance and of the South West Alliance of Rural Health were affected due to the ransomware attack.

Victorian Premier, Daniel Andrews, told reporters on Tuesday that they are expecting disruption in outpatient services and non-urgent cases, so emergency procedures will not be affected. He also said that it was "very much a criminal attack" where "a lot of thought" had gone into targeting the hospitals.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet in a statement said:"The Victorian cyber incident response service has been deployed and worked with impacted health services overnight to respond to the attack."

They also stated that this cyber incident was uncovered on Monday, September 30 and "has blocked access to several systems by the infiltration of ransomware, including financial management."

It should be mentioned that several servers across the state were targeted by the hackers who launched the ransomware attack. But the government said, "At this time there is no suggestion that personal patient information has been accessed."

A department spokesperson said,"Hospitals have isolated and disconnected a number of systems such as the internet to quarantine the infection."

It was also reported that the isolation has led to the shut down of the patient's record, booking and management system "which may impact on patient contact and scheduling."

"The affected hospitals are now working on their bookings and scheduling to minimise the impact on patients, but may need to reschedule some services where they don't have computer access to patient histories, charts, images and other information," added the statement.

Barwon Health, which services Geelong and the surrounding area has mentioned that it had "experienced a cybersecurity incident." In a Tweet, they also wrote that "some elective surgery and appointments" had been cancelled.

In a media statement, it said, "We expect there to be some impact on patient services throughout the day. The University Hospital Emergency Department is continuing to treat patients as they arrive."

Earlier, Shadow Cabinet Office Minister reveals that UK's National Health Service, widely known as 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.

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. Even two Canadian hospitals have reported cyberattack incidents.