Ardent Health, a major hospital operator overseeing 30 hospitals across the United States, announced Monday it had been the victim of a ransomware attack that affected ambulances and operations, Axios reported.
The attack, which took place over Thanksgiving, forced a shutdown of numerous computerized services essential for patient care.
"In an abundance of caution," Ardent Health said in a statement, "our facilities are rescheduling some non-emergent, elective procedures and diverting some emergency room patients to other area hospitals until systems are back online."
This disruption has affected various Ardent hospital chains, such as Hillcrest HealthCare in Oklahoma, Lovelace Health in New Mexico, and UT Health in Texas, necessitating the transfer of some emergency room patients to other hospitals.
The ransomware attack has notably impacted systems that handle patient healthcare records. Ardent has reported the issue to law enforcement and engaged third-party forensic and threat intelligence advisers.
"At this time, we cannot confirm the extent of any patient health or financial data that has been compromised," said Ardent Health, addressing the potential breach of sensitive information.
Ransomware attacks targeting healthcare providers have become increasingly common. Brett Callow, an analyst at cybersecurity firm Emsisoft, told NBC News that the U.S. has experienced 35 such attacks this year.
The FBI has come out against complying with ransom demands. "We need victims not to pay the ransom because that's the gasoline that's pouring on the fire," FBI director Christopher Wray said earlier this year. "The more people pay, the price goes up and the more victims there are. So we have a shared common interest in not having the ransoms get paid."
Ransomware analyst Allan Liska told NBC News in June that these tech-targeted attacks on hospitals began around 2016. Since then, according to Liska, the cyberattacks have grown to roughly 300 annually.
As a result, NBC News reports that studies show a correlation between ransomware attacks and increased mortality rates in hospitals.
But Ardent emphasized that patient care continues "safely and effectively" at their facilities. Nonetheless, the company did acknowledge the ongoing process of understanding the attack's full impact. "Ardent is 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," the company noted.
Nick Koutsobinas ✉
Nick Koutsobinas, a Newsmax writer, has years of news reporting experience. A graduate from Missouri State University’s philosophy program, he focuses on exposing corruption and censorship.
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