Virus Causes Shutdown at MedStar Health, Prompting FBI Investigation

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One employee told The Post that the entire Medstar computer system is inaccessible.Meghan McCorkell has more details.”The attempt to negatively impact an institution created to save lives and care for those in need is a sad and troublesome reality of our times, not only for MedStar Health, but for our entire industry and the communities we serve”, MedStar president and CEO Kenneth A. Samet said in the statement.The FBI said it is investigating a computer virus that has forced a massive shutdown of a computer system of Medstar, a major hospital chain in the Baltimore-Washington area.”MedStar acted quickly to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the organization”, it said in a statement posted on Facebook.MedStar stressed that there is no evidence patient files have been compromised and all facilities will remain open, despite the lack of access to medical records, scheduling computers, internet services, and email.According to the Associated Press, the FBI is investigating whether the virus is so-called “ransomware”, where hackers extort money in exchange for returning systems to normal.MedStar operates 10 hospitals in Maryland and Washington, including the Georgetown hospital.Although hospitals are considered to be critical infrastructure, cyber security in the U.S. hospital sector is generally regarded as poor, according to reports. However, “the organization has moved to back-up systems paper transactions where necessary”. It serves hundreds of thousands of patients and employs more than 30,000 people.”Medical services continue”, she said in an interview.Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, which is owned by CHA Medical Center of South Korea, paid 40 bitcoins — or about $420 per coin of the digital currency — to restore normal operations and disclosed the attack publicly.The FBI recently called for emergency aid from businesses and IT security organisations in its investigation of a ransomware variant called Samas that targets health organisations and infects multiple systems across a network.