BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The Erie County Medical Center reported Sunday that they took their computer system down. after a virus was detected.
The hospital's email system was primarily affected but IT specialists took their whole system off-line to prevent any more damage
Staff ask that any inquiries be directed to 716-898-5500, as emails cannot currently be received.
The hospital's IT team is working on resolving the issue.
They say it happened at ECMC in the early morning hours of Sunday. Somehow a virus was detected in an e-mail and hospital IT specialists decided to shut down their entire vital computer system as a precaution to prevent any more damage. So for now they're back to paper for hospital operations according to ECMC spokesman Peter Cutler "Writing prescriptions, doctor's orders things like that is all being handwritten.
There are other systems that we have in place both in hard copy and also through phone systems and so forth that we've been able to maintain levels of communications. "
Cutler stresses that a thorough analysis of what exactly happened is underway as they hope to restore the computer system in the next two days.
But while that investigation continues, it is well known that many other agencies ranging from a library in St. Louis, to light rail in San Francisco, to a county attorney's office in Arizona, to a police department in Missouri. have all been hacked with actual ransom requests from the hackers to restore or release information. Last year a hospital in California paid $17,000 dollars to do so. So did it happen here? ECMC's spokesman responded this way "We have concerns about the motivation that lead to this virus and we are working with the appropriate agencies. To determine the validity of whatever information we've received as a result of this virus coming into our system."
The other big question is what about patient information because of electronic medical record keeping?
Cutler says "We are confident that no patient information has been compromised. But to be doubly certain of that and err on the side of caution we will do a complete analysis...post the restoration of the system."
In some cases anti - cybercrime experts have suggested that no ransom should be paid to discourage future cases. But again ECMC will not directly say if that is what happened here.
The Buffalo FBI office has deferred comment to ECMC but the hospital spokesman did mention state and federal law enforcement is involved.
The FBI has a specific cybercime unit and specialists who investigate these cases which could involve criminals anywhere around the world.
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