Ransomware Attack Paralyzes 21 Hospitals, Critical Systems Offline

A devastating ransomware assault has crippled 21 hospitals across Romania, plunging vital healthcare services into chaos as their healthcare management system succumbed to a malicious cyberattack.

The targeted system, known as the Hospital Information System (HIS), serves as the backbone for managing medical operations and patient data within these healthcare facilities. However, over the weekend, it fell victim to a relentless ransomware assault, resulting in the encryption of its database and rendering it inaccessible.

The Romanian Ministry of Health confirmed the severity of the incident, stating, “During the night of 11-12 February 2024, a massive ransomware cyber-attack targeted the production servers running the HIS information system. As a result of the attack, the system is down, files and databases are encrypted.”

In response, the Ministry, alongside IT specialists and cybersecurity experts from the National Cyber Security Directorate (DNSC), has launched an investigation to assess the extent of the damage and explore avenues for recovery. Meanwhile, precautionary measures have been enacted to safeguard unaffected hospitals from potential threats.

The impact of the ransomware attack reverberated across various healthcare facilities, including regional medical centers and cancer treatment facilities. A dedicated team of DNSC cybersecurity experts is currently probing the cyber incident, urging against interference with the affected hospitals’ IT operations to prioritize the restoration of services and data integrity.

The fallout from the attack has forced medical professionals to resort to traditional pen-and-paper methods for tasks such as prescription management and record-keeping. The system engineer echoed similar sentiments, emphasizing the comprehensive shutdown of servers and internet connectivity as a protective measure to prevent data breaches or loss.

Amidst the turmoil, concerns loom over the potential compromise of patients’ personal and medical data, prompting urgent investigations into the scope of the breach. However, the software service provider responsible for the compromised Hipocrate healthcare system, Romanian Soft Company SRL (RSC), has remained conspicuously silent, refraining from issuing any public statements regarding the incident.

Efforts to obtain clarification or comment from RSC have been met with silence, underscoring the urgency of addressing the security vulnerabilities exposed by this ransomware attack and the imperative for swift action to restore essential healthcare services for affected patients.

To mitigate the risk of ransomware attacks, healthcare institutions should prioritize cybersecurity measures such as regular software updates, robust firewall protection, employee training on identifying phishing attempts, and implementing data backup systems to ensure rapid recovery in the event of an attack. Additionally, employing advanced threat detection tools and collaborating with cybersecurity experts can bolster defenses against evolving cyber threats.