Universal Health Services 22

Universal Health Services

In September 2020, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, Universal Health Services, was hit by a ransomware attack that disrupted all their systems. Computers and phone systems were compromised causing a panic. Their IT department quickly shut down their network after realizing that they were hit with a massive ransomware attack. UHS later confirmed that 250 care sites and hospitals were affected by the cyberattack. This story is just a latest example of what could potentially happen to any business if strict caution isn’t taken when dealing with networks and digital infrastructure. The recent hacks across different businesses shows just how vulnerable a company can be despite the heavy protection.

Who Attacked?

Ryuk! A notorious ransomware strain known as Ryuk was used to attack UHS. If you’re a fan of anime, you might be familiar with this name. Ryuk was named after a fictional character from the series “Death Note.” It’s operated by WIZARD SPIDER, a sophisticated and notorious criminal group. Ryuk has been operating within that organization since 2018 in which large cupanies are targeted in hopes of gaining ransom in return. WIZARD SPIDER typically calculates ransom based on the size of the organization they’re targeting. The organization has made about $3.7 million (USD) in Bitcoin off of their destructive cyberattacks.

What Was The Result?  

The IT department at UHS first announced the attack, stating that no patient or employee data was compromised. UHS was able to restore services quickly at its corporate data centers and connectivity was quickly reestablished. There is no report as to whether they paid any ransom to the hackers. Pennsylvania-based UHS claimed that they deployed a large number of IT resources at their hospitals to help support operations as they slowly came back. It was confirmed that one woman lost her life following a ransomware attack but it’s not clear if it’s connected to the UHS case. Furthermore, a Reddit user claimed that four patients had died due to the attack but it is not yet confirmed. During the attack, the facilities were transporting patients to smaller hospitals. A hospital employee noted that EKG’s and PACS radiology systems were offline and were forced to handwrite any and all patient related information.

Staying Safe

Hospitals are a big risk when it comes to cyberattacks. The lives of patients are at risk, and the panic the cybercriminals create within the hospital environment provides a greater threat to everyone. This is a good example that even that largest, safest networks are not safe. If hospitals and large corporations are easily targeted, then compromising the information of individuals is a breeze for criminals. Remember to backup all data. Use strong and unique passwords. Utilize different antivirus software and firewalls. Educating employees on the best practices is important. Having a procedure when such attacks take place can help ease the process. Avoid opening any suspicious links such as lotteries, prizes, and gifts.

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