Ransomware attack still causing problems at Wyoming hospital

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A computer attack by hackers demanding payment in exchange for removing the ransomware has caused serious problems at a Wyoming hospital for three days.

Campbell County Memorial Hospital in Gillette has received patients since Friday’s attack but some were still being sent to hospitals elsewhere, including Sheridan, Buffalo, Douglas, Casper and Rapid City, South Dakota, county Emergency Management Coordinator David King said.

Surgeries and other procedures were being rescheduled as the attack continued to affect imaging, pharmacology, record-keeping and other functions and services.

Some 1,500 computers and servers were being kept offline to both contain the ransomware and treat the machines like a crime scene that could help determine who was responsible, King said.

“They have unplugged every computer in the hospital. Physically unplugged them from the wall,” King said.

FBI investigators and Wyoming Department of Homeland Security officials were at the hospital.

It isn’t known when the computer problems might be resolved, hospital information technology director Matt Sabus said at a livestreamed news conference Monday in Gillette.

Hospital officials at the news conference refused to say how many patients had been transferred.

Even before the attack, the 90-bed, acute care community hospital routinely sent patients with certain needs to bigger hospitals in other cities, King said, but more ambulances were being staffed to handle transport elsewhere.

The attack also affected two affiliated facilities, a rehabilitation center in Gillette and a medical clinic in Wright, Wyoming Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman Kelly Ruiz said.

What specifically the hackers wanted and whether they got it wasn’t publicly known. Hospital officials couldn’t discuss the hackers’ demands because the attack was under investigation, hospital spokeswoman Dane Joslyn said.

Federal officials discourage ransomware attack victims from paying because hackers seldom follow through on their promises, King said.

Original Story:

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — An attack by hackers on a Wyoming health organization’s computer systems has forced a hospital to cancel some surgeries, stop admitting patients and transfer some patients to other facilities, a spokeswoman said Saturday.

Campbell County Health officials were working with federal, state and local authorities to regain access to its systems after the ransomware attack took its computers hostage on Friday, officials said.

Campbell County Health runs the Campbell County Memorial Hospital, a 90-bed hospital in Gillette, along with clinics, a long-term care center and a surgery center.

The emergency room in Gillette is still operating, but the ransomware attack has made some patient care services unavailable, forcing hospital officials to send some patients elsewhere, spokeswoman Karen Clarke said.

“We are evaluating patients and evaluating appropriate care,” Clarke said.

She declined to elaborate on what kind of medical services were affected by the attack. Elective surgeries have been canceled for Monday, while other surgeries are being evaluated case-by case, she said.

In a ransomware attack, hackers typically take a computer system hostage and demand money in exchange for restoring access. Such attacks have been around since the 1980s, but they’ve become increasingly frequent with the rise of cryptocurrency that makes it easier for hackers to receive and spend the ransoms.

It wasn’t immediately clear what the hackers were seeking from Campbell County Health.

On Friday, the attack shut down the outpatient lab, inpatient admissions and canceled some surgeries. On Saturday, Campbell County Health officials posted an update that said its emergency services and walk-in clinic were operational and that patients in the hospital and other facilities were safe.

“We are working with regional facilities to transfer patients who need a higher level of care,” the notice said.

New patients still weren’t being admitted Saturday, Clarke said.

Officials said there is no evidence that any patient data has been accessed or misused.

Campbell County is home to about 46,000 people and a center of Wyoming’s coal and oil industry.

County commissioners declared a local disaster on Friday, the Gillette News Record reported.

The declaration starts a process to protect the hospital from losing federal funds for diverting patients to less-capable facilities, Emergency Management Coordinator David King said.

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