US-based Universal Health Services, which has 400 locations in the United States, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom, says the company’s IT network is currently offline. Anonymous sources say it is a ransomware attack.
In a statement, UHS says the entire IT network is inaccessible due to a “security issue.” In the message, the chain does not say anything about the type of problem involved. Until the issues are resolved, hospital staff will use backup processes, including paper documentation. The company emphasizes that healthcare is still being implemented and that data from patients and employees has not been stolen or accessed to our knowledge.
Two anonymous sources tell TechCrunch that the attack started Sunday morning local time, locking computers and cell phones. One source said there were references to the ‘shadow universe’ on computer screens, which would indicate the Ryuk ransomware. Hospital staff were told to shut down all computers and that it would take days for the systems to be used again.
According to a nurse with whom NBC News spoke, the hospital patient cards are offline, but information about medicines is stored digitally. It is unclear whether the backed-up data is accessible.
Earlier this year, several ransomware criminals said they would not attack health organizations. However, those responsible for the Ryuk software were not among them. Hospitals are more often hit by ransomware attacks, such as a hospital in Düsseldorf earlier this month. This attack may have caused a patient to die.