Cyberattack disrupts operations at major US healthcare network

Cyberattack disrupts operations at major US healthcare network

A cyber attack has disrupted “clinical operations” at the major healthcare nonprofit Ascension, forcing it to take steps to minimize any impact to patient care, an Ascension spokeswoman told CNN on Wednesday.

“There was a disruption to clinical operations, and we continue to assess the impact and duration of the disruption,” said a statement from Ascension, a health system that includes 140 hospitals and 40 senior living facilities in 19 states. Ascension is recommending that its healthcare customers temporarily disconnect their network connections to Ascension while the incident is being addressed, according to the statement.

The nonprofit “detected unusual activity” on several of its computer systems on Wednesday, prompting an investigation and notification to “appropriate authorities,” an Ascension spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. Ascension has “initiated procedures to ensure the delivery of patient care continues to be safe and the impact is as minimal as possible,” the spokesperson said.

If any sensitive patient data has been compromised in the hack, Ascension will notify those affected, the nonprofit said.

An Ascension spokesman did not immediately respond to follow-up questions about whether the incident involved ransomware, which locks computers so hackers can demand payment.

Healthcare providers across the US have experienced numerous ransomware attacks in recent years, some of which have disrupted patient care and cost healthcare providers millions, if not billions of dollars.

A February ransomware attack on a subsidiary of healthcare giant UnitedHealth Group caused billing disruptions at pharmacies across the US and threatened to put several healthcare providers out of business.

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