International Cyberattack Affects Some Corners of U.S. Health Care, Including Medical Devices

The international cyberattack that swept the globe has had some impact on the U.S. health-care system, as hospital systems scramble to prevent its further spread.

On a conference call with health-care organizations Monday, U.S. federal officials said several medical devices had been infected with the ransomware that proliferated across dozens of countries, but declined to identify the devices, according to a person on the call. The Department of Health and Human Services, which organized the call, referred questions to Homeland Security, which didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

In an interview Sunday, a Homeland Security official said some U.S. health-care companies reported suspected or confirmed attacks involving the ransomware. The official declined to say whether hospitals were among those affected. The malware didn’t disrupt operations and mostly affected administration, a Homeland Security spokesman said Monday.

Cybersecurity experts across U.S. health care remained on alert through the weekend, racing to patch vulnerable computer networks and scanning for evidence of new variants of the malware known as WannaCry, which worms into computers through a vulnerability in Microsoft Corp. software. The malware encrypts files and demands ransom to release them.

The U.S.’s largest hospital operator, HCA Healthcare, hasn’t detected an impact from the cyberattack, a spokeswoman said. The Nashville, Tenn.-based company, which also owns six hospitals in the U.K., continues to monitor its networks, she said.

Northwell Health, which owns 18 hospitals and more than 550 outpatient centers in New York, gathered information security employees Saturday at a data center in Westbury, N.Y. to monitor the health system’s networks from banks of monitors that flashed status updates.

By Melanie Evans | The Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: Associated Press


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