Ransomware hackers hit the Oloron-Sainte-Marie hospital in France. The ransomware attack paralyzed the hospital’s systems. It is the third such attack in the last month.
The attack took place on Monday and took down the IT systems of the 320-bed facility near the Pyrenees mountains jeopardizing its patients. The ransomware gang is reportedly demanding a ransom of $50,000 worth of Bitcoin.
The intrusion was first discovered by Rémi Rivière, an IT engineer in charge of the systems, on March 8 afternoon. To contain the spread of the malware, the hospital’s IT staff took offline a part of the hospital’s network.
“We reacted as quickly as possible. This virus is of the Ransomware type, the same one that hit the Dax hospital a month ago. Hackers enter the hospital’s computer system and encrypt all the data which makes them unreadable for our services and then sends a ransom demand message in exchange for their original return,” said the hospital’s spokesperson.
The Dax-Côte d’Argent hospital in southwest France suffered from a ransomware attack that has caused a big disruption in its operations three weeks ago.
A recent report by the CyberPeace Institute warns that such cybercriminals are “playing with lives” and must be stopped. Attacks against hospitals and health care organizations are especially dangerous during the ongoing pandemic. At the time of the attack, the hospital in Oloron-Sainte-Marie was amidst its vaccination campaign against Covid-19.
The operations were heavily impacted by the ransomware attack which made digital patient records unavailable forcing the personnel to resort to pens and paper. The system used to monitor medicine stocks and other supplies was not operational as well.
“We might get our systems back in 48 hours or in three months,” hospital director Frederic Lecenne told local newspaper La Republique des Pyrenees.
This was the third ransomware attack at French hospitals in the last month and a half. Following the first two incidents, French President Emmanuel Macron announced a plan to boost public facilities and private companies against cybercriminals.