Sun, Sep 01, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Ransomware attacks on several hospitals reported

‘NO LEAKS’:A health ministry official said that systems were back to normal quickly and no records were lost, although password management needed improving

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Health and Welfare’s name is displayed at the main entrance of its headquarters in Taipei on April 30.

Photo: Lin Hui-chin, Taipei Times

More than a dozen computer system servers at hospitals have been attacked by ransomware, the Ministry of Health and Welfare said yesterday.

The ministry issued the statement after Chinese-language reports said that about 56 hospitals nationwide have been targeted by ransomware since Thursday, including ministry-affiliated hospitals, large regional hospitals and clinics.

Hackers used malware to block hospitals’ access to their own information system and asked them to pay in bitcoin within a certain time or face losing files, the reports said.

The reports said that the ministry had reported the cases to the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau.

Department of Information Management Director Parng I-ming (龐一鳴) said that the ministry received information about a ransomware attack initiated early on Thursday at the ministry’s Taipei Hospital in New Taipei City.

However, the hospital restored the system within two hours and no medical records were leaked, Parng said.

About a dozen other hospitals reported ransomware attacks that were initiated early on Friday, he said, adding that the issues were resolved in one to two hours, no ransoms were paid and no patient information was compromised.

Similar incidents have occurred at hospitals in Taiwan before, with the source of the attacks tracked to eastern Europe, he said, adding that the sources of this week’s attacks have not yet been identified.

The hospitals had password management problems that could be improved, so the ministry has asked them to bolster their information security, he said.

A US survey showed that about one-quarter of ransomware cases targeted healthcare facilities, he added.

Additional reporting by CNA

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