Privacy & Security
Humber River Hospital hit by malware attack
June 16, 2021
TORONTO – The Humber River Hospital – one of Canada’s most computerized hospitals – announced that it suffered a malware attack on Monday morning that led the organization to shut down all its information technology systems and to declare a Code Grey, meaning the loss of essential services.
In a statement on its website, the hospital said: “On June 14, 2021, at about 0200 hrs we experienced a zero-day ransomware of a new malware variant. Since our systems are constantly updated (most recent patching June 13, 2021) and monitored this was discovered almost immediately and all IT systems were shut down, including our patient health records system.”
The message noted that the attack was a form of ransomware, but because the hospital shut down its computer systems rapidly, there has been no call for a ransom.
“Ransomware usually encrypts files and then once most are encrypted asks for ransom,” the hospital message said. “Since we shut down quickly, encryption is not an issue, although we are dealing with some corrupt files.”
Humber River’s IT department has been working with an external recovery firm to get the facility back online.
“We have over 5,000 computers (800 of which are servers). Each will be restarted manually; the patch (just developed by Symantec) will be added to each computer and then each system recovered as required. We will bring systems back online in a staggered approach over the next 48 hours. It is important to know that no confidential information was released.”
The hospital said that it was required to cancel a variety of clinics, due to the computer shutdown. Surgeries were not cancelled, and the Emergency Department remained open, although a slowdown was in effect.