Cyber Triage: Ascension Healthcare Battles Ransomware Siege, Ambulances Rerouted

In the throes of a suspected ransomware attack, Ascension’s ambulances swerve to diversion—because when your EHR goes AWOL, it’s not the time for elective tickle surgeries. Cybersecurity event or digital shakedown? Stay tuned.

Hot Take:

Let’s give a round of applause to the Black Basta ransomware gang for thinking healthcare systems needed an extra challenge beyond a global pandemic! Ascension’s systems are down, and it’s like we’re back in the era of carrier pigeons and smoke signals, only with ambulances and MyChart instead. Cybersecurity event? More like an unplanned IT fast for one of America’s biggest healthcare networks.

Key Points:

  • Ransomware attack suspected at Ascension, causing clinical operations to resemble an episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” minus the drama.
  • MyChart electronic health records system now stands for MyChart-not-working-right-now system. Patients are asked to BYOMR (Bring Your Own Medical Records).
  • Non-emergent elective procedures are on a timeout until further notice, because nothing says “get well soon” like rescheduling your surgery.
  • Ascension advises business partners to disconnect faster than a bad Tinder date to avoid the cyber cooties.
  • Black Basta ransomware gang allegedly behind the attack, probably mistook “encrypting hospital systems” for “community service.”

Need to know more?

Healthcare Heist: The Cyber Siege

Remember the days when the worst thing about hospitals was the food? Well, Ascension's patients are currently reminiscing those days as they're greeted with the 21st-century equivalent of "Sorry, we're closed" signs. The suspected ransomware attack has caused more traffic diversions than a presidential motorcade, with ambulances being rerouted like confused Ubers. Ambulances are on diversion, and the ER is playing hard to get, all thanks to our cyber attackers who probably believe in "go big or go home."

Electronic Health Records: A Thing of the Past

The MyChart system is down, and I bet you're missing those incessant email notifications now, aren't you? Patients are encouraged to scrounge through their medicine cabinets to bring their own records. It's like a potluck, but instead of casseroles, it's your prescription history. And for those longing for the days of handwritten notes and face-to-face conversation, congratulations, it's a forced digital detox.

Procedure Purgatory

Elective procedures are being paused, and if you're wondering what that means, imagine your Netflix account asking you to reschedule your weekend binge-watching plans. It's not personal; it's just that the healthcare system is currently taking a nap. Rest assured, your wart removal or knee replacement will happen... eventually.

The Cyber Disconnect

In an act of "better safe than sorry," Ascension is telling its business buddies to unplug quicker than a kid when mom walks in on video game time after bedtime. It's a digital "save yourselves" as they try to contain the cyber plague within the walls of their own virtual castle.

Black Basta's Ransomware Racket

Sources hint that the Black Basta gang is behind the cyber shenanigans, and they're not your run-of-the-mill hackers. They're like the Ocean's Eleven of ransomware, except they're probably not as good-looking as George Clooney and definitely not as charming. They've turned attacking healthcare systems into a sport, and rumor has it they've already scored over $100 million. Talk about a lucrative business model—too bad it's on the dark side of the law.

Ascension, meanwhile, is taking a stroll down memory lane, using "downtime procedures" that probably involve a lot of paper, pencils, and the rediscovery of the fax machine. They're working with Mandiant incident response experts to solve this like a jigsaw puzzle that's mostly sky. As one of the largest private healthcare systems in the U.S., with a revenue of $28.3 billion, let's hope they can find their way back to the digital age before patients start thinking leeches are back in vogue.

Tags: Black Basta ransomware., electronic health records (EHR), Healthcare Cybersecurity, healthcare network disruption, MyChart system outage, patient care continuity, ransomware attack