Aiken hospital impacted by large data breach at parent company

Published: Sep. 30, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT
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AIKEN, S.C. (WRDW/WAGT) - We’re learning a cyberattack on a local hospital was part of one of the largest data breaches in U.S. history.

Corporate for Aiken Regional Medical Center is at work to get its 400 plus facilities back online. The hospital is owned by United Health Services, which operates more than 400 medical facilities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Puerto Rico.

The company blames a malware issue that started Sunday and it forced them to shut down all networks across the nation.

And this breach is leaving many wondering how these large companies handle cyber-attacks and what happens with patient information.

“We see new cases of this all the time. It shows that this kind of problem isn’t going away,” said Zac Lewallen, owner of Hybertek Solutions.

Universal Health Services is still looking into how their system fell victim to this cyber-attack. And it’s still unknown how much data and what data was used but they don’t believe patient information was released.

“Patient data that’s actually being sent out of the network would be your worst-case scenario here,” Lewallen said.

And Lewallen says it’s not uncommon for this type of attack to happen for really anyone.

“While hospitals are a fat target for ransomware attackers simply because they have the budget. They can pay the ransom and get more out of them. That’s not to say we don’t see a ton of small business get targeted just the same,” Lewallen explained.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that spreads across computer networks that encrypts data, then it asks for payment to decrypt them. And fixing that can take some time.

“For this size of a network, it could take months to bring everything fully back,” Lewallen said.

Lewallen says there’s one lesson that can come from attacks like these:

“I think more than anything these kinds of things just go to show the importance of having backups and having offsite backups,” he said.

UHS says it’s still having trouble with their systems and aren’t sure when they will be fully up and running again.

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