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Cyberattack on the Ascension Health Systems Causes Disruption Across 140 Hospitals in the US

A cyberattack on the Ascension health system compelled 140 hospitals in the US to divert ambulances, causing patients to postpone medical tests while blocking online access to patient records. 

An Ascension spokesperson stated that unusual activity was detected on its computer network systems. However, officials refused to say whether the non-profit Catholic health system fell prey to a ransomware attack or whether it had paid a ransom, and failed to immediately respond to an email seeking updates. 

The attack reportedly had the hallmarks of ransomware and Ascension revealed that it had called in Mandait, the Google cybersecurity unit that is a responder to such attacks. A few months ago, a cyberattack on Change Healthcare caused disruption in care systems nationwide, causing the parent company UnitedHealth to pay a ransom of $22 million in bitcoin. 

Ascension further mentioned that both its electronic records system and the MyChart system that allows patients access to their records and to communicate with their doctors were offline. 

“We have determined this is a cybersecurity incident,” the national Ascension spokesperson’s statement said. “Our investigation and restoration work will take time to complete, and we do not have a timeline for completion.”

The Ascension spokesperson’s latest statement, issued Thursday, May 23, said ambulances had been diverted from “several” hospitals without naming them.

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