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Wellington Regional Medical Center, other hospitals targeted in cyberattack

Source tells NBC News issue 'looks and smells like ransomware'
Posted at 5:06 PM, Sep 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-29 00:21:46-04

WELLINGTON, Fla. — A major hospital chain with Wellington Regional Medical Center on its portfolio has been the target of one of the largest medical cyberattacks in U.S. history, NBC News is reporting.

Universal Health Services didn't immediately respond to requests for comment but said in a statement on its website Monday that its company-wide network "is currently offline, due to an IT security issue."

"We implement extensive IT security protocols and are working diligently with our IT security partners to restore IT operations as quickly as possible," the statement said. "In the meantime, our facilities are using their established back-up processes including offline documentation methods. Patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively. No patient or employee data appears to have been accessed, copied or misused."

A person familiar with the company's response efforts told NBC News that the issue "looks and smells like ransomware."

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that spreads across computer networks, encrypting files and demanding payment for a key to decrypt them.

"In most cases with ransomware, the data was not pulled out of the organization," cyber security expert Alan Crowetz, president and chief executive officer of InfoStream Inc., told WPTV. "They just set off a grenade inside your house."

The hospital chain operates several facilities in South Florida, the largest of which is Wellington Regional Medical Center.

A representative from Wellington Regional Medical Center referred WPTV to the statement from Universal Health Services when asked for a comment on what, if any, impact the potential ransomware attack has had there.