Vermont hospital says cyberattack was ransomware

BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont-based hospital network is now saying a cyberattack that crippled its computer systems in October was ransomware.

While the Burlington-based University of Vermont Health Network, which serves hospitals in Vermont and upstate New York, had said its systems were attacked on Oct. 28, officials had not confirmed the attack that disabled the system’s 600 applications was ransomware.

On Tuesday, hospital officials said its information technology workers found a file directing them to contact the attackers if they wanted their systems restored, but it did not contain a request for money.

“We considered it for about five seconds,” said Doug Gentile, the chief information officer for the UVM Health Network.

The hospital contacted the FBI, which is continuing to investigate.

Since the attack, the hospital has been rebuilding all 1,300 of its servers and restoring the backups. They say no patient data was affected and they hope the system can be fully restored by early next month.

The hospital said that before the attack they had strong security measures in place, but the attackers still found a way in.

“It’s become clear, really this is an arms race. I think you’ve all seen in the news some of the recent sophistication of cyberattacks that are being launched and it’s really just going to continue,” Gentile said. “So, we all have to stay vigilant. We all are going to continually have to update our tools and our approaches to try to stay ahead of the bad guys in this situation.”

The same day as the attack on UVM Health Network, the FBI and two federal agencies warned cybercriminals were ramping up efforts to steal data and disrupt services across the health care sector.