Fortune 500 US hospital chain compromised by a ransomware attack

September 29, 2020

Fortune 500 US hospital chain compromised by a ransomware attack

A recent cyber-attack on Universal Health Services (UHS), one of the largest US public companies appearing on Forbes and Fortune 500 lists, has led to a shutdown of its systems, affecting the hundreds of facilities it operates across the US.

As first reported by bleeping computer, some of the attacked hospitals transitioned to an all-paper system and were forced to reroute patients to other emergency rooms. A similar ransomware attack in Germany reportedly led to the death of a critical patient who was rerouted to a different hospital.

The attack, which experts believe to be a Ryuk ransomware attack, started early Sunday morning with the aim to affect as many systems as possible before being detected. Being one of the largest US hospital and health care network operators, UHS fits the profile for Ryuk attacks, which normally target large corporations in an attempt to gain more money as ransom.

Some of the impacted computers displayed a note reading “Shadow of the Universe”, which is similar to the note appearing on Ryuk ransom notes.

Ryuk ransomware usually starts as a phishing attack that infects that target, infiltrating, and stealing its data. A ransomware attack, especially one targeting hospitals, has a greater potential to cause harm as attackers can harness sensitive information such as patient and employee data, and use it later for malicious purposes and result in loss of patients’ lives.

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