Southern Ohio Medical Center faces targeted cyber attack

Health

PORTSMOUTH, OHIO (WOWK) — A major medical center in our region is still dealing with the aftermath of a targeted cyber attack.

The attack on Southern Ohio Medical Center (SOMC) happened early Thursday morning.

“Basically, it took out their servers and their network. It appears to be a ransomware group that basically went in, got access to their network, and a lot of times that works by attaching things to emails,” says Larry Mullins, director of Scioto County Emergency Management Agency (EMA).

Mullins says the consequences are far-reaching: “It shut down all their systems, all their files were locked—with encryption—so they didn’t have access to it. And I kind of like to say, ‘live by the computer, die by the computer,’ cause in this day and age, just everything is done on a computer.”

Mullins has been helping to coordinate the emergency response in the aftermath of the attack—and says it hampered some critical services.

“They had to go back to pen and paper, slowed down a lot of process…so they had to cancel hundreds of doctor’s appointments,” Mullins says.

Mullins says they even had to cancel some surgeries and had to redirect ambulances to other area medical facilities while this went on. Anything critical was flown out to other facilities as well.

As of Friday morning, however, SOMC began accepting ambulances again.

The hospital has not confirmed the nature of this attack or the extent; they say the investigation is still in early stages.

However, SOMC isn’t the only facility that has had to face a cyber attack. According to a report from a cybersecurity firm, these sorts of attacks are happening across the nation.

“One group has done 30 different attacks on healthcare facilities and networks since June…This is very similar to the situation in Marietta that effected them back in August…These groups are very sophisticated,” Mullins says.

SOMC says patient care and safety remain a top priority, and they’re working with federal law enforcement and internet security firms to resolve the situation as quickly as possible.

This is a developing story, and we will continue to update it on WOWKTV.com, the WOWK 13 News App, and on 13 News on air.

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