Singing River Health System, which operates several major regional hospitals and clinics, was forced to take numerous systems offline following a suspected ransomware attack.
Singing River Health System serves more than 100,000 patients per year, and a spokesperson said patients can expect delays on some medical services including radiology examinations, lab work, and potentially more, as “all systems are currently offline,” the spokesperson told The Record.
“Downtime procedures remain in place as we continue to see patients. We are working very hard to provide more definitive information regarding what systems will be available and when. Our IT security team is working around the clock, but due to the nature of this matter, this will take some time,” the spokesperson said.
“Certain internal SRHS systems were taken offline to protect the integrity of the systems during the investigation. SRHS is working to restore offline systems. We developed workaround solutions to enable a portion of our business operations to continue while we complete a thorough investigation.”
Takeaway: Ransomware attacks are one of the biggest threats facing every organization, and healthcare providers have been hit particularly hard.
Earlier this month, a ransomware attack disrupted healthcare systems in California, Texas, Connecticut, Rhode Island and Pennsylvania, forcing the suspension of services at emergency rooms and causing ambulances to be diverted to other facilities. The attacks have also caused the suspension of primary care services.
Ransomware operators know that the impact of an attack against healthcare organizations doesn’t just disrupt everyday business, it directly affects the lives of their patients, which puts tremendous pressure on the targeted provider to pay up for swift recovery.
Healthcare providers are a favorite target for ransomware operators given they typically have fewer resources to dedicate to security, the networks are often composed of older legacy components, and any downtime is extremely disruptive.
The average time it takes for an organization to recover from a ransomware attack has been pegged at about three weeks or more according to multiple studies. While a private, profitable organization with ample resources may be able to weather such a lengthy disruption to operations, the healthcare game is one of immediacy.
Patients are different than customers, and in most cases, they cannot afford delays in treatment without putting their health at risk.
There is no way to argue against the fact that ransomware attacks on healthcare providers pose a significant threat to human life. While the perception is that the industry must be flush with cash given how expensive healthcare is to obtain, it is a misconception.
The reality is that our nation’s healthcare system is for the most part operated by non-profit entities who work on shoestring margins. Disruptive ransomware attacks are an existential threat to healthcare and put patients’ lives at risk.
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