ASHTABULA — Ashtabula County Medical Center is working to restore its computer system after going offline last Thursday, following a technology security-related disruption.
“We immediately activated our back-up contingency plans,” President and CEO Michael J. Habowski said in a prepared statement Tuesday afternoon. “In addition, we are working with independent information security experts to conduct a thorough investigation.”
The hospital did not disclose further details about the nature of the incident.
NBC News reported on ACMC on Tuesday night, quoting a cybersecurity expert who said the apparent cyberattack appeared to stem from ransomware, which is a type of malicious software that criminal hackers use to encrypt files and shut down computers.
Once that happens, the hackers demand payment to unlock computers.
“This certainly has all the hallmarks of a ransomware attack and, if so, Ashtabula County Medical Center would be the 53rd U.S. health care provider or health care system to be impacted by ransomware so far this year,” said Brett Callow, an analyst at the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft.
Habowski said that based on ACMC’s preliminary investigation, there is no evidence that patient or employee data has been accessed.
Although ACMC canceled some appointments, the emergency department remains open. Outpatient departments and physician offices are continuing to provide care for patients.
The outage affected the hospital’s five family health centers, where doctors and nurses have had no access to computers, so they can not see the results of a patient’s lab work, prescriptions or health history.
“We appreciate our caregivers’ continued commitment to serving our community and our patients’ understanding as we work through this issue,” Habowski said.