MedStar Health hit by cyber attack, turns to paper records

Extent of damage is unclear; hospital system suspends IS interfaces.

MedStar Health, which operates 10 hospitals serving the Baltimore-Washington region, was the target of a cyber attack Monday morning.

The organization was using paper records and charts to provide care, and it announced that the FBI is investigating the incident. Late yesterday, the organization was not providing answers to questions about the attack, and it did not confirm whether ransomware was involved.

In its coverage of the incident, the Washington Post reported that an employee said two other employees told her they saw pop-ups on their computer screens asking for payment of a ransom.

MedStar Health issued the following brief statement Monday evening:

“Early this morning, MedStar Health’s IT system was affected by a virus that prevents certain users from logging into our system. MedStar acted quickly with a decision to take down all system interfaces to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the organization. We are working with our IT and cyber-security partners to fully assess and address the situation. Currently, all of our clinical facilities remain open and functioning. We have no evidence that information has been compromised. The organization has moved to back-up paper transactions where necessary.”

MedStar Health did not respond to a request for additional information on the incident.

Ransomware incidents have been increasing in recent weeks. Hospitals recently victimized by ransomware include Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, which paid a $17,000 ransom after struggling to recover; Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Ky., which claimed to have fought off the attack and paid nothing; Ottawa Hospital in Canada, which isolated four infected computers and wiped the drives; and Chino (Calif.) Valley Medical Center and Desert Valley Hospital in Victorville, Calif., both part of Prime Healthcare, which was able to limit damage and paid no ransoms.

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