DCH Regional Medical Center pays hackers in ransomware attacks

Updated: Oct. 5, 2019 at 4:57 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - A spokesperson from DCH confirms that the medical center paid hackers in response to a cyber attack earlier this week.

The following statement is from Brad Fisher of DCH:

“We worked with law enforcement and IT security experts to assess all options and execute the solution that was best for our patients. This included purchasing an encryption key from the attacker to expedited system recovery and help ensure patient safety. For ongoing security reasons we will be keeping confidential specific details about the investigation and our coordination with the attacker.”

Three hospitals in the DCH Health System are not taking patients right now unless they are critical cases.

The three hospitals, DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center are under a ransomware attack.

A post on the DCH website says "A criminal is limiting our ability to use our computer systems in exchange for an as-yet unknown payment."

The hospitals have implemented their emergency procedures because some computer technology is not available.

Again, right now DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center are closed to all but the most critical new patients.

According to a hospital spokesperson, the staff is caring for the patients who are currently in the hospitals, and they do not plan to transfer current patients.

If you are scheduled for an outpatient procedure or test at a DCH hospital, call before you go.

Ambulances have been instructed to take patients to other hospitals if at all possible.

Patients who come to DCH emergency departments may be transferred to another hospital when they are stabilized.

Cyber security expert Robert Hill says these types of attacks are targeted. A recovery from this type of cyber attack could take weeks. Hill says medical facilities can’t afford to be down for long, so they’ll more than likely be forced to pay the ransom sooner rather than later.

"This will take out their ability to take care of patients and an organization like that is much more willing to pay ransom to get their systems back rapidly," Hill said.

The hospital tells us the FBI and Secret Service are investigating this attack.

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