Great Plains Health medical center announced Tuesday it was canceling some nonemergency appointments and procedures following a ransomware attack that hit its computer network on Monday.
The attack, which has resulted in the encryption of patient medical records, was identified Monday, around 7 pm, by the hospital's information systems team. This has prompted the facility’s IT department to work through the night and minimize the impact of the attack on its local health services.
"They target geographic areas. And so, we would ask the community to be very careful if you're receiving any suspicious phone calls, to know that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is,” Fiona Libsack, chief development officer of Great Plains Health, told KNOP. “And make sure that you are not giving out social security numbers or anything like that. If there is suspicious activity on your personal computer or your business computer make sure you're changing passwords," she added.
As of today, the Nebraska-based regional medical center confirmed it is still working on recovering its email and other computer services that have been affected by the ransomware. The investigation is also still ongoing to identify the people behind the virus.
To further the search, the FBI, along with other cybersecurity experts are also currently on site. According to officials, some of these teams are working 24/7 to trace what happened and identify ways to prevent the same security incident from happening again.
Ransomware is a type of malware that locks the user out of their files by encrypting their records and demands for a ransom in return of the affected files.
To date, Great Plains Health medical center said it is now operating as usual and that members are currently using traditional paper forms to communicate with each other. Depending on the progress of the investigation, the security issue is expected to last from days up to months to resolve.
“We continue to work through the ransomware issue and have every reason to believe that no patient information was accessed. At this time, we are in normal health system operations. Patients will continue to be served. If you had a procedure or clinic visit canceled this morning due to weather or due to a system down, the clinic will be contacting you to reschedule. We are working closely with law enforcement as the investigation unfolds,” Great Plains Health medical center wrote on a Facebook post.