Hackers hit the Waverly Health Center Wednesday night. Hospital computers began showing signs of irregularities about 5:00 p.m.
Heidi Solheim, the hospital’s director of community relations, says by early evening it was clear a cyberattack was underway.
“By seven o’clock we had disconnected all of our systems, recognizing that we had a significant virus within our entire information systems,” Solheim says.
Solheim says the hospital’s “incident reaction team” was activated.
“All of our incident command positions started really just taking care of the projects that we needed to do, making sure that patient safety was our number one priority,” Solheim says, “and determining what types of services we were able to continue offering.”
The ransomware hacker demanded money in order to free up the hospital’s computers. Solheim says fortunately, the hospital’s data is encrypted so the hacker did not have access to patient information.
“This issue was unsual in that Microsoft had not recognized this virus before,” Solheim says, “so there really were no safeguards to prevent it from getting in our system.”
Healthcare has become a particularly attractive target for ransomware hackers. A group of free standing cancer treatment centers in Florida was subject to a ransomware attack in 2016. The computers at the Waverly Health Center are expected to be virus free sometime today.
(Reporting by Bob Foster, KCNZ, Cedar Falls)