Hancock Regional’s Response to a Ransomware attack


Everything happened in less than 48 hours where a ransomware attack has been carried out after which the vital hospital computers were all shut down, while a Bitcoin payment secured on the dark web and the decryption codes used to secure the system’s operational capabilities again. In January 2018, a cyber attack was caused to the Hancock Regional Hospital that no one even has imagined leading to providing them a crucial lesson that cybersecurity plays a significant role and that investing in it would be the best investments ever. The CEO of the Ind-based hospital of Greenfield, Steve Long, has spent the previous year in not only making sure that his hospital’s computers are safe and secured but at the same time has shared his story about a decision to pay a ransom to the hackers who have compromised the Hancock Regional Hospital’s data.

It was 11th January 2018 that MR. Long was getting ready for bed just like any other day when suddenly he received an influx of text messages and emails from a staff describing a message on the PC screens stating that all the systems of the hospitals have been encrypted with the SamSam malware. The message was pretty straightforward and read: “Pay a ransom in Bitcoin in less than one week or the data would be encrypted permanently.” The hackers have also put an extra effort by including step by step instructions that detailed on how the Hancock Regional could get the decryption key.

What all did was focused on the physical copies of the documents as their backup plan. All the systems were turned off while the administrators, staffs, the nurses and the physicians have all turned to their personal cell phones and the non-hospital computers came to rescue as the means of communications. During the shutdown, over 1,200 units were turned off and the signs were posted around the hospital reminding the staffs to keep all the computers shut down. The non-essentials staffs were called off as the hospital management established an incident command centre. Mr. Long also ensured that the communication through the cyber attack must not be hampered. Finally, the hospital authorities have contacted the experts as their emergency response plan.

The FBI then recommends that organizations hit with ransomware attack must not pay the ransom, Mr. Long said. Nevertheless, refusing to pay the ransom comes with consequences which might be even worse. It’s important for hospitals and health systems to consider if they possess reliable backups, how long it will take to restore from backups they have and what the value of time is for all the affected providers. While everything was going on, Mr. Long and the staffs have decided to pay the ransom that totalled to $55,000 in Bitcoin as the hacker of the ransomware attack stated.

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