Cyberattack at DCHS; operations continue

IRON MOUNTAIN — Dickinson County Healthcare System is assessing the impact of an apparent ransomware attack discovered Saturday morning that forced the provider to shut down its computer systems to contain the virus.

The hospital and clinics continue to operate under established contingency procedures to provide continuous safe patient care until systems are back online, DCHS said in a statement Monday.

Although it is early in the investigation, there is no indication at this time that any data was accessed or taken as a result of the incident, DCHS said.

“We are treating this matter with the highest priority and are responding by using industry best practices while implementing aggressive protection measures,” CEO Chuck Nelson said. “While we investigate, our top priority is maintaining our high standards for patient care throughout our system.”

Clinical staff at DCHS continues to operate under manual procedures, leveraging paper copies of medical records to support patient care. The hospital is working with a third-party security and forensics firm to assess the scope of the event, as well as to restore system access and functions.

Law enforcement has been notified and will continue to be informed as to the progress of DCHS recovery efforts.

According to healthitsecurity.com, the cyberattack mirrors recent U.S. ransomware incidents at other health care providers, including Pennsylvania-based Universal Health Services, a Fortune 500 company. Criminals have been increasingly targeting health care institutions with ransomware during the pandemic, infecting networks with malicious code that scrambles data. To unlock it, they demand payment.

In the U.S. alone, 764 health care providers were victimized last year by ransomware, according to data compiled by the cybersecurity firm Emsisoft. It estimates the overall cost of ransomware attacks in the U.S. to $9 billion a year in terms of recovery and lost productivity. Some industry experts say the only way to effectively recover, for those unwilling to pay ransoms, is through diligent daily system data backups.


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