Ardent Health hit: Ransomware disrupts operations at six locations.
Cybersecurity action: Specialists engaged to quickly restore services.
Healthcare risk: Sector vulnerable to attacks due to sensitive data.
Ardent Health Services, a healthcare provider with six locations in multiple states, is facing disruption to clinical and financial operations following a ransomware attack. The attack, which was discovered on the morning of November 23, took Ardent’s IT network offline and suspended user access to all IT applications, including corporate servers, Epic software, internet and clinical programs.
As a result of the attack, some Ardent hospitals are currently operating on divert, meaning they are asking local ambulance services to transport patients in need of emergency care to other area hospitals. Non-emergent, elective procedures are also being rescheduled until systems are back online.
Ardent has not yet specified the extent of any compromised patient health or financial data, but it has reported the event to law enforcement and retained third-party forensic and threat intelligence advisors. The company is also working with cybersecurity specialists to restore its operations as quickly as possible.
In the meantime, Ardent is assuring patients that care continues to be delivered safely and effectively at its hospitals, emergency rooms and clinics. The investigation and restoration of access to electronic medical records and other clinical systems is ongoing.
“We are still determining the full impact of this event and it is too soon to know how long this will take or what data may be involved in this incident,” Ardent said in a statement.
The healthcare sector is a prime target for cyber attacks due to the sheer volume of sensitive information typically stored on the systems of healthcare providers and organizations. The frequency and severity of attacks against the healthcare sector have been increasing in recent years.
This is just the latest in a series of cyber attacks that have targeted healthcare organizations in recent months. Earlier this month, McLaren Health Care notified around 2.2 million individuals that their personal information was compromised in a data breach. US-based healthcare company HCA Healthcare recently suffered a data breach impacting 11 million patients, while almost one million people were affected by a ransomware attack on New York-based healthcare billing company Practice Resources (PRL) last year.
The Ardent Health Services ransomware attack is a reminder of the importance of cybersecurity for healthcare organizations. Healthcare providers need to take steps to protect their data and systems from cyber attacks, and they need to have a plan in place for responding to an attack if one does occur.
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