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Tuesday, 23 March 2021 11:52

Eastern Health limping back to normal, ransomware may be cause Featured

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Eastern Health limping back to normal, ransomware may be cause Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Melbourne's Eastern Health, which runs a number of healthcare units including the Box Hill and Maroondah Hospitals, says it is slowly recovering from a network attack that it reported last Wednesday.

In a statement on Monday, the organisation did not, however, say anything about the nature of the attack.

But a security industry source told iTWire that while there was no definite indication yet as to the cause, Windows ransomware was by far the most likely suspect.

There is some logic to this claim, with the number of ransomware attacks on healthcare organisations in the US rising by 60% in 2020 over the number in 2019. There were 92 individual attacks that affected more than 600 separate clinics, hospitals, and organizations and more than 18 million patient records.

In Australia, too, the number of attacks on health service providers was up, to 123, the top industry sector for 2020, according to data from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Monday's Eastern Health statement said: "Eastern Health continues to manage the impacts of a significant cyber incident experienced last week.

"While a number of our IT systems remain offline, our Business Continuity Plans have been enacted and we continue to make inroads into our planned recovery.

"Thank you to our staff, patients and visitors for their understanding at this time.

"All patient information continues to be handled with the necessary care, confidentiality and due diligence.

"Eastern Health continues to accept patients at our three Emergency Departments.

"Any delays experienced with our Contact Centre have been rectified and we encourage patients and the community to utilise this service if they have any queries.

"COVID vaccinations for our prioritised staff continue across our sites, with our second staff clinic, Maroondah Hospital, opening today and Angliss Hospital on-track to begin later in the week."


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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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