Several hospitals across the United States have been targeted in ransomware attacks in what appears to be an escalation and expansion of similar attacks previously launched on other hospitals and medical facilities.
According to CNN, a Trump administration official revealed that several hospitals have been targeted in the attacks over the past two days, and while it’s still early, the official claims the incidents may be connected.
Ransomware is a type of malware, or malicious software, that encrypts a victim’s files. The hacker then typically demands a ransom from the victim to restore access to the victim’s data upon payment. Users are often given instructions on how to pay a fee to get the decryption key, in order to recover their data.
The official said that the federal government is now actively investigating.
So far, three hospitals have confirmed that they were targeted, Universal Health Services, a hospital health care service company based in Pennsylvania; St. Lawrence Health Systems in New York; and the Sky Lakes Medical Center in Oregon.
Ransomware and other cyber attacks have been on the rise this year, especially during the pandemic as hospitals are their most vulnerable. Most recently, hackers crippled the IT network of a German hospital resulting in the death of a woman seeking emergency treatment.
Since July, hospitals in states including New York, Nebraska, Ohio, Missouri and Michigan have all been attacked by some form of ransomware.