On Monday, a computer virus crippled information systems at the major Washington-area hospital chain MedStar Health Inc. The virus has affected all DC and Baltimore MedStar Health locations including Washington’s Georgetown University Hospital. The hacker, who infected the systems with "ransomware," is demanding several million dollars to return the systems back to operability.
MedStar released a statement following the incident to allay concerns that the public may have with the quality of treatment and functioning of the hospital: "Currently, all of our clinical facilities remain open and functioning with no evidence that patient information has been compromised." However, the hospital chain also admitted that the virus has prevented employees from logging into the systems to review patients’ medical and treatment records.
"Right now, workers have to do everything manually and there is concern this could affect quality of care," one anonymous MedStar employee said. Despite growing concern from hospital workers about the continued treatment of patients, the hospital chain has yet to call for a temporary closure of their locations.
Law enforcement and FBI are actively investigating the hacking incident, but have yet to release an official statement on the status of the investigation, what measures will be taken to return the systems to operability, or whether they are currently in contact with the hacker regarding the ransom request.
The breach comes on the same day as a shooting incident at the US Capitol building that led to a temporary shutdown of the Capitol, the White House, and several other official buildings. There are no reports at this time as to whether the incidents are related.