Home E-Weekly December 12, 2017

Hackers Attack Surgery Center

Published: December 11, 2017

CYBER ATTACK A Nebraska surgery center was the victim of a ransomware attack.

Two Nebraska medical facilities are warning patients after they suffered a ransomware attack that encrypted files and made some patient information vulnerable.

The attack occurred on Oct. 7, according to a statement from Eye Physicians, P.C., one of the two facilities that suffered the breach. The other facility, Columbus Surgery Center, shares a building and computer server with Eye Physicians. It was that server that was breached, said Billi Jo Benson, RN, BSN, of the Columbus Surgery Center.

Ms. Benson said the surgery center realized it had been a victim of an attack when employees tried to use their computers and found their systems were not working. They contacted their IT department, which recognized a ransom note on the server, she said.

The attack encrypted files on the server, making patient information including names and birthdates vulnerable, according to both Ms. Benson and the Eye Physicians statement. No financial records, payment records or social security numbers were put at risk by the breach, said Ms. Benson and the statement. There's no evidence that the hackers were able to access or view the information, said Ms. Benson.

The facilities restored their servers with information saved during a recent backup and said they're notifying any patients who could be affected by the attack. They've also used independent experts in computer forensics to investigate what caused the breach.

Ms. Benson said the surgery center is releasing information sheets to patients, detailing how they can further protect their personal information. A representative for Eye Physicians, P.C. did not immediately return a call for comment Monday.

In a November story, Outpatient Surgery Magazine wrote about the effects of cyber attacks and various ways that surgical facilities can prevent them.

Anna Merriman

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