Carthage, Claxton-Hepburn hospitals target of cyber attack

Published: Sep. 1, 2023 at 4:03 PM EDT
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(WWNY) - Two north country hospitals have been targeted in a cyber attack, but officials say there appears to be no breach of patient information.

Officials say Carthage Area Hospital and Claxton Hepburn Medical Center in Ogdensburg discovered the incident Thursday at approximately 6 p.m.

As a precaution, the emergency rooms at Carthage and Claxton have been put on diversion, meaning other area hospitals have been notified and are prepared to receive patients as needed.

“I would say at this point we believe it is contained. We are still running several analytics to ensure that. We have no reason to believe there has been any breach in personal, private or financial or patient care information at this time,” said Richard Duvall, chief executive officer of both hospitals.

Duvall added no demand for a ransom has been made.

Carthage Area Hospital is experiencing intermittent issues with phone service because it took its system offline due to the attack.

Officials say if callers are unable to contact the hospital through the normal method, they should call the nursing supervisor at 315-778-4069.

Claxton’s phone service is not affected.

Officials say most services at the hospitals and all satellite facilities are operating as usual without any impact.

The FBI, the New York State Department of Health, and the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services have been notified. Duvall said he was told the government is aware of the group who launched the cyber attack, and it’s very sophisticated.

“I do not know if this is domestic or international. I do know authorities were familiar with this group and said it is a highly sophisticated group and has seen this group do this to other facilities across the country,” he said.

Duvall said in the last four to give years the hospitals have invested more into security for its system, because cyber attacks against hospitals have been on the rise. He added both facilities were well guarded, but said more needs to be done to be absolutely sure.

Officials say internal information technology security software, which runs 24 hours a day at the hospitals, noticed the unusual activity and alerted the IT department.

“At this time, we have no indications that patient privacy and security have been compromised, but as a precaution, we urge patients and partners in our healthcare community to monitor and report suspicious activity, and pay attention to updates as the investigation continues. We understand the concern this incident may cause and want to assure our community that we are taking every step necessary to protect privacy and security and maintain all healthcare services,” the hospitals said in a news release.

The hospitals said they will provide updates on their website and Facebook as more information becomes available.