MedStar Health's computers are being held hostage by hackers using a virus and demanding a ransom to unlock the sudden encryption of the medical firm's data, reported the Baltimore Sun
MedStar operates 10 hospitals and other facilities in the Baltimore-Washington area, including the Georgetown University Hospital in the capital.
The FBI and MedStar acknowledged a computer virus attack at MedStar on Monday, reported the Sun, and a source at MedStar said hackers were seeking payment in bitcoins for the released of the data.
The Washington Post
said the MedStar attack was similar to ones at three other medical institutions in California and Kentucky.
"We are pleased that our analysis continues to show no patient or associate data have been compromised," said a MedStar statement
on Wednesday. "MedStar's (information technology) team and cybersecurity experts have worked around the clock to protect the integrity of our clinical data systems, and to restore operations."
"Restoration of additional clinical systems continues with priority given to those related directly to patient care. The recovery of major clinical information systems followed MedStar's decision to take our systems offline to prevent the spread of the malware identified early Monday morning."
The Los Angeles Times
reported in February that Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a hacker $17,000 in bitcoin to get control of its computer systems again.
"The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key," the hospital's chief executive Allen Stefanek told the Times then. "The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."
The Post said that while MedStar waits for computer systems to work again, its staff has returned to paper charts and records.
"Everything will be slowed down tremendously," Stephen Frum, a labor representative for National Nurses United, told the Post. "It's huge."
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