Last month, Campbell County Health in Gillette was hit with a ransomware attack, which severely disrupted the provider’s operations. Powell Valley Healthcare took note of the incident and has …
Last month, Campbell County Health in Gillette was hit with a ransomware attack, which severely disrupted the provider’s operations. Powell Valley Healthcare took note of the incident and has been assessing its vulnerability to such an attack. No major problem areas were uncovered.
“I’m not saying we won’t get hit, but we’re doing the right things,” said PVHC CEO Terry Odom.
Ransomware, a form of malware, blocks access to computer files until a ransom is paid. The ransomware attack on Campbell County Health impacted the hospital’s 1,500 computers, resulting in a number of services being shut down or limited, including new patient admissions and radiology exams, and some surgeries were canceled.
Healthcare providers have been the targets of these kinds of cyber attacks. In 2016, a Los Angeles Hospital paid approximately $17,000 to restore its computer networks following a ransomware attack, and this week three hospitals in Alabama and seven in Australia were paralyzed from these viruses.
Dustin Cole, information security officer for PVHC, said they are keeping employees trained and backing up data to protect files just in case a virus holds them for ransom. Still, there’s no completely foolproof system.
“The risk is still there,” he said.
The viruses find their way into networks primarily by way of email. So, the training consists of sending employees emails that mimic what’s called phishing to see if the employee properly deletes them. Some types of phishing emails warn a user that they need to log into an account over some urgent situation. When the user clicks on the link, it goes to a fake site that grabs their username and password when it’s entered. Other phishing emails tell the user they’ve won some money or been sent an e-card.
“There’s usually something to click on,” Cole said.
Those links are pathways to viruses. Cole said the hospital gets over a half-million emails a day, and only about 10 percent of those are actually delivered. The rest are filtered out by spam and malware blockers.
“Often, when I send out the fake test emails, people are surprised to see them,” he said.
About 98 percent to 99 percent of the computer systems at Campbell County Health were expected to be back online Friday, the Gillette News Record reported.
“We’re not back to normal, but it’s much better than where we were a week ago,” CEO Andy Fitzgerald said.