Hospital shuts down email after ransomware attacks at 3 other hospitals

Updated: Oct. 30, 2020 at 10:29 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, N.Y. (WWNY) - Email is a way scammers can get into a computer system. On the heels of 3 hospitals in St. Lawrence County getting hit with ransomware, a fourth hospital in the county has shut down its email.

St. Lawrence Health System hospitals were hit Tuesday. Wednesday, the FBI warned hospitals nationwide more attacks are coming.

Friday, Claxton-Hepburn shut down all email to prevent anything from happening there.

“One thing that I think healthcare has realized, it’s not about if, it’s about when,” said Richard Duvall, CEO of Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center and Carthage Area Hospital.

No one wants to see a computer screen showing that your data is stolen and that you’ll have to pay to get it back.

“It’s really hard to have full prevention of those attacks,” said Minhua Wang, SUNY Canton professor of cyber security.

St. Lawrence Health released some information about the attack there. Professor Wang says it looks like officials stopped a ransomware attack in progress.

“It triggered the alarm and then the hospital started to take action. That’s what I guess and I believe that’s what should happen in a hospital,” said Wang.

This kind of hacking isn’t done by some teenager in his bedroom. It’s big business. It’s done by sophisticated hackers.

They’ll negotiate the price, but it could be millions of dollars. The threat of more attacks comes just as hospitals are dealing with another surge in COVID-19.

“It’s absolutely been a stressful situation for all healthcare organizations across the nation,” said Duvall.

Claxton-Hepburn and Carthage hospitals have not had to reduce any patient service due to the threat and patient portals are still up and running on their web sites.

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