Cyber ​​attack against a hospital in Essonne: the health institute forced to transfer “vulnerable” patients

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For four days, the Corbeil-Essonne hospital has been the target of a computer attack. Its services have been affected and the hospital will be required to transfer some of its patients to other hospitals to preserve their health.

It has been four days since the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital in the Paris suburbs was the target of a computer attack. While the Minister of Health, François Braun, assured that this cyberattack had not endangered the health of the patients of this hospital, the establishment indicated on Wednesday, August 24 that “all patients who are unstable or require urgent treatment” and “patients at risk, which needs increased monitoring”, should be transferred.

According to company management, the medical biology and imaging departments can no longer transfer medical results quickly. The Corbeil-Essonne hospital even had to equip itself with CD burners to store and transfer this data. Patients who require regular examinations at short notice will therefore have to be transferred to other hospitals. This is, among other things, the case for patients who are admitted in acute cases, or infants admitted to intensive care. “The pharmacy has taken rapid measures which ensure the continuity of the provision of services with medicines and medical equipment”, explains the hospital in a press release.

A ransom demand of at least $10 million

In fact, the South Francilien Hospital Center in Corbeil-Essonnes, southeast of Paris, has been the victim of a computer attack since the night between Saturday and Sunday around 01:00. A ransom demand of $10 million, worded in English, was demanded by the hacker(s). “It is a cyber attack that unfortunately occurs in all companies, […] as often happens unfortunately. We will not give in,’ assured François Braun.

In recent years, the number of cyber attacks has increased significantly, and they no longer spare healthcare institutions, even if they are not necessarily a priority target. In 2021, the National Authority for the Security and Defense of Information Systems (Anssi) recorded an average of one incident of this type per week in a healthcare institution in France. “Hackers have particularly broad goals, they go fishing. It is basically the lure of profit that motivates them, although some may also have ideological motives, revenge”, indicated General Christophe Husson, deputy commander of the Gendarmerie command in cyberspace (ComCyberGend) , recalling that the “global cost of cybercrime is estimated at $6 billion per year”.

In search of “digital evidence”

The Paris prosecutor’s office announced on Monday that it had opened an investigation into the hacking of the computer system and attempted extortion by an organized gang overseen by its cybercrime unit. The investigations were entrusted to gendarmes from the Center for Combating Digital Crime. According to a source close to the investigation, the ransomware belongs to the Lockbit group. About 100 affiliates participate in the group’s activities, according to a recent interview cited by cybersecurity specialist Damien Bancal on his blog Zataz.com. This galaxy of specialists revolves around a software, a common platform that offers all the tools to carry out the attack.

The aim of the cyber gendarmes’ investigation is to collect “digital evidence” to “identify the perpetrators, locate them and arrest them”. These investigations are “always very long, can last several months or even several years” and require significant international cooperation, General Husson warns.

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