MedStar Health was forced to turn some patients away on Tuesday as it recovered from a malware attack.
The healthcare provider said Tuesday that it was making progress toward restoring functionality of its computer systems, which were taken down after being hit by malware early Monday morning. MedStar then took the precaution of taking those systems offline to avoid further corrupting its network infrastructure.
“With a few unique exceptions, all of our doors remain open,” MedStar explained in a statement, while several reports said patients were denied access to the hospital and sent elsewhere. “The safety of patients and associates and the privacy of their information is our utmost concern.”
Officials said they have not encountered evidence that patient health information (PHI) has been either stolen or compromised and that MedStar employees will refrain from adding any new information to systems without first determining that those computers are free of malware.
The attack, currently under investigation by the FBI, forced MedStar’s 10 hospitals and more than 250 outpatient centers to shut down their computers and email servers on Monday.
The provider said staffers were working to restore the majority of its computer network. They are using backup systems, including paper documentation where necessary, and as an additional layer of support to clinical operations.
Several reports described the attack as ransomware, malicious code deployed on a system and locks all files with an encryption key designed to hold systems hostage until victims pay for a decryption key to regain access. While neither the FBI nor MedStar have confirmed that the malware is in fact ransomware, that style of attack has spiked in recent weeks with instances at Chino Valley Medical Center and its sister site Desert Valley Medical Center in California, Methodist Hospital in Kentucky and, prior to those, Hollywood Presbyterian was forced to pay cyber-criminals $17,000 n mid-February.
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