New Jersey Sleep Medicine Experts Face Ransomware Attack

The New Jersey-based Hackensack Sleep and Pulmonary Center, experts in sleep illnesses as well as pulmonary diseases and conditions, have faced a ransomware attack which led to the safeguarded health info of certain sick person encrypted.

The ransomware attack happened on September 24, 2017 and led to medical information files encrypted by the virus. The attack was found the next day. As is usual in these attacks, the assailants released a payment claim, the fee of which was required to get the keys to open the encryption.

Hackensack Sleep and Pulmonary Center was equipped for ransomware attacks and had prepared copies of all files, and the copies were kept securely offline. The copies were used to regain all encrypted files without paying the money.

Although data access is a probability with ransomware attacks, the objective of ransomware is generally to make files inaccessible and compel victims to buy the key to open the encryption. Ransomware attacks usually don’t include data theft or data access. Hackensack Sleep and Pulmonary Center has no cause to think this attack was any different. No proof was found to indicate that any files were detached from its system or seen by the assailants.

The kinds of info encrypted comprised patient reports, procedures, notes, and diagnoses, together with names, account information, addresses, credit card numbers, dates of birth, insurance information, and Social Security numbers.

Hackensack Sleep and Pulmonary Center summoned a forensic professional to help with the inquiry, and suggestions have been obtained on extra security defenses which can be arranged to avoid future cases from happening. Those suggestions are being studied and extra safety measures will be applied to increase security and avoid future attacks.

The case has been informed to the Division of Health and Human Services’ OCR as well as the New Jersey State Police Cyber Offences Unit, and also impacted people have been informed of the breach by post.

The OCR breach portal shows 16,474 patients have been affected by the event.