The crooks had infected the network of Hancock Health, in Indiana, with the Samsam software nasty, which scrambled files and demanded payment to recover the documents. The criminals broke in around 9.30pm on January 11 after finding a box with an exploitable Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) server, and inject their ransomware into connected computers.
Medical IT teams were alerted in early 2016 that hospitals were being targeted by Samsam, although it appears the warnings weren’t heeded in this case.
According to the hospital, the malware spread over the network and was able to encrypt “a number of the hospital’s information systems,” reducing staff to scratching out patient notes on pieces of dead tree.
The ransomware’s masters accepted the payment, and sent over the decryption keys to unlock the data. As of Monday this week, the hospital said critical systems were up and running and normal services have been resumed.
This doesn’t appear to be a data heist. The hospital claimed no digital patient records were taken from its computers, just made inaccessible. “The life-sustaining and support systems of the hospital remained unaffected during the ordeal, and patient safety was never at risk,” the healthcare provider argued.
It’s one thing to keep an offline store of sensitive data to prevent ransomware on the network from attacking it. It’s another to keep those backups somewhere so out of reach, they can’t be recovered during a crisis, effectively rendering them useless.
It just proves that when planning disaster recovery, you must consider time-to-restoration as well as the provisioning of backup hardware.