Ransomware attack on Israeli hospital enters second day

Limited activity will continue today. Israel’s National Cyber Directorate Chief at WH ransomware summit: “we’re in the middle of trying to solve it, it doesn’t look very good”

Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, Hadera, Israel. Photo: Rafi Koren, Hospital Media Department via Wikimedia

The ransomware attack on the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, in the Israeli city of Hadera, has entered its second day. The attack started in the early hours of yesterday morning (Wednesday), and led to the shutdown of the hospital’s computer systems. In response to a question submitted by Israel Defense, the hospital spokesperson said that they are still working on a solution and that all activity will continue as it has yesterday, meaning in reduced capacity.

The extent of the damage, as well as the long-term ramifications of this attack and the motives behind it – whether mostly financial or an attempt at creating real damage and disruption – remain unclear at this point. Yesterday, the hospital reported that there are no negotiations underway.

Nachman Ash, Israel’s Ministry of Health Director, sent a letter to all hospitals in the country yesterday, warning from potential additional similar incidents. “Due to concerns of attacks against additional health organizations, I would like to ask for your utmost vigilance, and for you to provide appropriate guidelines to employees while reviewing risk-mitigation behavior. You are requested to verify  that your information is backed up in a way that can be used continuously for medical treatment.”

“The Ministry of Health, Cyber Directorate, and other relevant bodies were immediately updated, and the hospital is working with alternative computing systems and manual patient registration”, said Dr. Mickey Dudkiewicz, Director of the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center.  “I would like to stress that all critical equipment is operating as normal.” The hospital also requested the assistance of the Ministry of Health in diverting non-critical patients to other hospitals.

News of the attack also made its way oversees – to the virtual White House ransomware summit, attanded cybersecurity leaders from some 30 countries around the world. “I can disclose now that Israel is experiencing a major ransomware attack against one of its big hospitals,” said Yigal Unna, Director General of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, in his opening remarks – as reported by The Hill. “It doesn’t look good right now.”

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