First they were schools, now hospitals suffer ransomware attacks. Louisiana declares emergency

A few days ago a cybersecurity incident that affected the systems of dozens of schools in the state of Louisiana, US was reported. Now, network security experts report that Imperial Health, a network of doctors providing health services to more than 100k people in this state, suffered a ransomware attack that compromised a percentage of the data storage in their systems.

An unidentified actor reportedly managed to inject the malware into the firm’s networks, so a database was encrypted; the ransomware was detected last May 19.

The compromised database contained personal and health information for about 116k patients. Although network security specialists have been unable to determine whether the attackers were able to extract the information from the database, the firm decided to inform users potentially affected by this incident.

Although each patient’s records vary, they generally all contain data such as:

  • Full names
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers
  • Social security numbers
  • Clinical details of the patients

After detection, the incident was reported to authorities, and the firm offered to assist in the investigation. According to the latest update on the incident, Imperial Health managed to completely remove ransomware from its networks, in addition to restoring its data successfully. A company spokesman added that Imperial Health is about to implement new antivirus software to prevent similar incidents in the future.

A few days ago, multiple IT systems in academic institutions in Louisiana, US, were attacked with an unknown malware variant. So far no attacks have been identified against other sectors.

The incident was so serious that John Bel Edwards, the state’s governor, issued an emergency alert after the security breach was discovered. As a result, the authorities will be able to allocate public resources to resolve the incident. This is the first time the Louisiana government has launched a cybersecurity emergency alert, according to network security specialists.

Unfortunately this is not the only recent cybersecurity incident in health organizations. A few days ago, the Philadelphia Department of Mental Health and Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS) announced the loss of a laptop that stored confidential information for about 1,500 patients; according to network security specialists, the laptop was password protected but the information was not encrypted.

Supposedly, the laptop was inside a briefcase that an employee misplaced on public transportation. The device contained personal details such as names, dates of birth, and some clinical details about patients. According to specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) the nearly 2,000 affected patients were duly notified, and will also receive one year of information monitoring services at no cost.

The user of the lost laptop violated the organization’s policy, which dictates that all portable devices in the company must have encryption. The DBHIDS announced that it would begin an audit to find other devices without proper protections.