Cyber attack hits Enloe; patient records safe, officials say (Chico CA hospital)

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CHICO — Enloe Medical Center in Chico was attacked in a ransomware incident Thursday evening, according to a press release from the hospital.

A ransomware attack is a type of computer virus, also known as malware, that threatens to publish private data or block access to it unless a ransom is paid. Officials at Enloe did not comment on what the hackers requested to return the information.

“Essentially, data on the network was encrypted in a way that it was not immediately accessible by the hospital,” stated the release. Enloe officials in the IT department said they notified local law enforcement and the FBI, as industry protocol recommends.

The cyber attack affected the hospital and clinic’s phone systems, as well as the hospital’s private network, said Jolene Francis, Enloe’s director of Advancement and Communications.

“Our systems were removed from our network in order to protect them,” Francis said. The hospital is currently running on back-up, offline protocol until it is safe to return to the hospital network.

“We need to make sure that it’s safe to bring those back up online,” Francis said.

Kevin Woodward, Enloe’s chief financial officer, said in a press release that the hospital took immediate steps to restore critical operating systems and ensure the security of its network.

“At this point in time, we have no indication or evidence that suggests patient medical data has been compromised,” Woodward wrote.

According to Enloe’s IT security consultant, more than 500 similar attacks were reported across the nation in 2019.

“Our caregivers did an incredible job responding to the cyber security incident and are doing everything possible to return our core systems to functionality, protect patient information, and partner with law enforcement agencies, including the FBI,” wrote Francis in the press release. “Well-planned and frequently-practiced backup protocols ensure that patient care remains uninterrupted as we work toward restoring affected systems.”

Enloe said it will provide further updates as new information on the attack becomes available.

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