Cyberattack on Massachusetts hospital disrupted records system, emergency services


The string of damaging cyberattacks against U.S. healthcare facilities continued this week as an incident knocked out the electronic health records system at a Massachusetts hospital and caused the facility to turn away ambulances on Christmas Day.

Anna Jaques Hospital, about 35 miles north of Boston, was “open to all patients” on Friday as it continued to recover from the attack, a spokesperson told WCVB-TV. Reports said the hospital resumed accepting ambulances on December 26.

The facility, part of the Beth Israel-Lahey Health system, has not released details about the attack, which reportedly began on December 24. A spokesperson did not respond to questions from Recorded Future News about the nature of the incident.

“We appreciate the community’s patience as we work through this investigation,” the spokesperson said.

Anna Jaques Hospital and Beth Israel-Lahey have not posted any information on social media about the incident.

Hospital officials said they contacted cybersecurity professionals as part of their incident response, according to a report on Thursday by the Daily News of Newburyport.

The attack and the aftermath are all too familiar to anyone tracking healthcare cyberattacks. In the days before Christmas, a hospital outside Kansas City, Missouri, was forced to transfer patients to other facilities.

Earlier in December, a Seattle cancer center not only faced a ransomware attack, but had the additional burden of knowing the cybercriminals had extorted individual patients as well.

Attacks also disrupted the Thanksgiving holiday at hospitals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The trend includes global examples, too: A healthcare provider in Australia announced December 22 that it had suffered a data breach.

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Joe Warminsky is the news editor for Recorded Future News. He has more than 25 years experience as an editor and writer in the Washington, D.C., area. Most recently he helped lead CyberScoop for more than five years. Prior to that, he was a digital editor at WAMU 88.5, the NPR affiliate in Washington, and he spent more than a decade editing coverage of Congress for CQ Roll Call.


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