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Latest Cyberattack Targets Major Healthcare System

Troubling trend continues, no end in sight.
Ryan Uliss
Contributing Writer
Aged red first aid kit with white cross, lying on a ruined surface.

Ascension Healthcare Network experienced a significant cybersecurity event this week, disrupting its clinical operations across multiple facilities. Upon noticing unusual activities on its technology network systems, Ascension quickly initiated remediation efforts and engaged cybersecurity experts from Mandiant Solutions to aid in the investigation. The attack has raised concerns due to its impact on essential medical services and patient care continuity, particularly in the context of increasing ransomware attacks targeting the healthcare sector.

While some systems were brought offline to control the situation, Ascension’s care teams implemented emergency procedures designed to maintain safe patient care. Despite these efforts, the full scope of the disruption and the potential exposure of sensitive patient data remain under close examination. Ascension has assured that it will notify and support any individuals affected, following regulatory and legal guidelines.

Why it matters: Cyberattacks such as this on healthcare facilities and institutions not only jeopardize patient privacy and data security but also disrupt critical medical services, potentially endangering lives. Staff and patients have expressed frustration and concern over the disruptions, highlighting a crucial need for timely updates and transparent communication from Ascension leadership to reassure and inform all affected parties.

  • Impact on Patient Care and Operations: The cyberattack led to significant operational disruptions across Ascension’s network, including major facilities in Illinois and Wisconsin. Emergency protocols were activated to mitigate the impact on patient care, yet some services, such as electronic health records and outpatient services, were severely affected.
  • Long-term Implications and Industry Concerns: The attack on Ascension is part of a broader trend of rising cyberattacks against healthcare providers. Recent similar incidents at other healthcare institutions have heightened concerns about the potential for widespread impact on the national healthcare infrastructure.
  • Regulatory and Compliance Dimensions: Ascension has committed to complying with all pertinent regulations regarding breach notifications and patient privacy. The involvement of external cybersecurity experts and federal authorities indicates the serious implications of the breach and the complex regulatory processes governing patient data security.

Go Deeper -> Ascension Healthcare Network Disrupted by “Cyber Security Event,” Interrupting Clinical Operations – CBS News

‘We can’t contact our doctors’: Ascension Health Care Workers Struggle After Cyberattack –

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Beth O’Rorke joined Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as both a CIO and SVP of Operations in 2015. Her return to the insurance sector...

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