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Hackers took a massive healthcare provider's network completely offline

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Robot Takes Over The Rounds At New Jersey Hospital Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

MedStar Health was forced offline this week after hackers took over its computer systems. An unconfirmed virus reportedly strangled the network and rendered it completely useless. Because of the attack, the healthcare operator’s 30,000 staff members and 3,000 affiliated physicians can’t access online record systems, check their emails, or look up phone numbers. Patients also can’t book appointments, according to the Associated Press.

A MedStar spokesperson hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment from The Verge, but the company told the AP that it couldn’t confirm what kind of malware was affecting its system and said its systems were still offline yesterday. The healthcare provider, which operates 10 hospitals in Washington, DC and Maryland, also didn’t clarify how its systems came to be infected.

record systems are offline

This attack mirrors a separate one on a California hospital. In that instance, hackers infected Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s network with ransomware and refused to decrypt the system unless the hospital paid them more than $3.6 million. They ultimately accepted $17,000 to get the system back online. Hollywood Presbyterian hasn’t said how the ransomware ended up on its network, but did indicate that the incident was "random," which likely means a hospital staffer clicked a malicious link or attachment that allowed the malware to spread. The FBI is reportedly assisting in both investigations.