Hackensack Meridian Health Emergency Rooms In Westwood and Montclair Shuttered By Ransomware Attacks

Source: MSN.com

Emergency rooms at Pascack Valley Medical Center in Westwood and Mountainside Medical Center in Montclair, both part of the New Jersey Hackensack Meridian Health system, were forced to shut down after what appears to have been a ransomware attack on their internal systems.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software (malware) that prevents access to computer files, systems, or networks and demands you pay a ransom for their return, threatening the loss of information and data critical to an organization’s operations.

Ransomware attacks on healthcare facilities have more than doubled since 2016, forcing staff to divert ambulances and delay potentially life-saving surgeries. In public statements, Hackensack Meridian Health has announced that as “a precaution, our emergency rooms are currently on divert status” and that “There is no adverse impact on patient care.”

An industry survey released in October of this year showed that six in 10 healthcare companies in the US have been the target of ransomware attacks. University of Minnesota health economist Hannah Neprash told National Public Radio: “During a ransomware attack, we see that in-hospital mortality goes up about 20 to 35 percent for patients who have the misfortune to be admitted to a hospital when that hospital goes through a ransomware attack.”

New Jersey has experienced an uptick in ransomware attacks targeting both the private and public sectors, with the Camden Country police department reporting such an attack in May. Montclair, the home of the affected Mountainside Medical Center, was targeted with a massive cyberattack in June, prompting investigations from both the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Department Of Homeland Security.

Details on who is behind the attack are currently unclear nor has the hospital said whether anything was being asked or demanded of them. Hackensack Meridian has provided no timeline for when the two emergency rooms will reopen.

Click the link for information from the FBI about ransomware and how it can be prevented.

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