Nebraska Medicine provides update on ‘cyber attack’ causing network issues

Dovie Salais

Officials at Nebraska Medicine now say network issues plaguing the system this week are the result of a cyber security attack. The hospital said it has notified law enforcement. A spokesperson for the Omaha FBI office said, “FBI Omaha is aware of the situation at Nebraska Medicine and we have […]

Officials at Nebraska Medicine now say network issues plaguing the system this week are the result of a cyber security attack. The hospital said it has notified law enforcement. A spokesperson for the Omaha FBI office said, “FBI Omaha is aware of the situation at Nebraska Medicine and we have offered our assistance.”Nebraska Medicine released the following statement Thursday:Earlier this week Nebraska Medicine experienced a significant information technology system downtime event. This downtime is the result of a cyber security attack. We notified law enforcement and activated our extensive and well planned contingency plans supported by trainings to prepare for these kinds of IT system situations. This includes prioritizing patients who have appointments or surgeries that are critical to their health and wellbeing. We have continued to see patients, as scheduled, using alternative, standardized processes to record and transmit information manually. For patients with elective procedures and appointments that were not critical in nature, we have rescheduled them and apologized for the inconvenience. Our emergency room remains open and we have not diverted any patients who arrive there. The attacks on health care organizations are rapidly increasing, and we are constantly assessing our security measures to help prevent cyber security incidents. Our back-up and recovery processes assured that no patients’ electronic medical records were deleted or destroyed. We are grateful for our innovative and proactive IT team for implementing procedures that are enabling us to restore operations very quickly. We anticipate that normal operations will resume in days. The patience and professionalism that has been demonstrated by our staff and our providers during this difficult time has been remarkable, and we cannot thank them enough. We remain committed to providing extraordinary care, and will do everything we can to minimize any further disruption to our patients.Terry Reinert, CEO of cyber security and artificial intelligence firm Red Berry Innovations, said there are things businesses and individuals can do to protect from these attacks. Those include training employees to watch out for suspicious links and always updating phone and computer software. He also recommends defense in-depth or layered security. “So you make sure that even if an attacker is able to breach your network, what they can get access to is very, very limited. And then they would have to put forth a lot more effort to move through your network to get other data,” Terry Reinert said. Red Berry Innovations COO Courtney Reinert said these cyber attacks also come with great financial impact. “The cost of an interruption like this is devastating for an organization,” she said, “A lot of processes are changing, You also have the lost cost of patients being able to come in. Things are getting canceled.” Gary Sparks is the Program Director for the Cybersecurity Center at Metro Community College and has 16 years of security experience in the military. “It takes time to work through data to get an understanding exactly what happened and where it came from,” Sparks said. Sparks said he receives Department of Homeland Security alerts on possible foreign attacks. “If it’s, if they think it’s a state actor, they’ll send out an alert to let everybody know that they’re starting to see activity, and different things like that. I haven’t seen anything like that come across,” he said. Tech experts and patients alike, are hopeful these issues are resolved soon. “We’re talking about Nebraska Medicine. That’s extremely impactful to the community and to the city and to all those people,” Terry Reinert said.

Officials at Nebraska Medicine now say network issues plaguing the system this week are the result of a cyber security attack. The hospital said it has notified law enforcement.

A spokesperson for the Omaha FBI office said, “FBI Omaha is aware of the situation at Nebraska Medicine and we have offered our assistance.”

Nebraska Medicine released the following statement Thursday:

Earlier this week Nebraska Medicine experienced a significant information technology system downtime event. This downtime is the result of a cyber security attack. We notified law enforcement and activated our extensive and well planned contingency plans supported by trainings to prepare for these kinds of IT system situations. This includes prioritizing patients who have appointments or surgeries that are critical to their health and wellbeing. We have continued to see patients, as scheduled, using alternative, standardized processes to record and transmit information manually. For patients with elective procedures and appointments that were not critical in nature, we have rescheduled them and apologized for the inconvenience. Our emergency room remains open and we have not diverted any patients who arrive there.

The attacks on health care organizations are rapidly increasing, and we are constantly assessing our security measures to help prevent cyber security incidents. Our back-up and recovery processes assured that no patients’ electronic medical records were deleted or destroyed. We are grateful for our innovative and proactive IT team for implementing procedures that are enabling us to restore operations very quickly. We anticipate that normal operations will resume in days. The patience and professionalism that has been demonstrated by our staff and our providers during this difficult time has been remarkable, and we cannot thank them enough. We remain committed to providing extraordinary care, and will do everything we can to minimize any further disruption to our patients.

Terry Reinert, CEO of cyber security and artificial intelligence firm Red Berry Innovations, said there are things businesses and individuals can do to protect from these attacks.

Those include training employees to watch out for suspicious links and always updating phone and computer software. He also recommends defense in-depth or layered security.

“So you make sure that even if an attacker is able to breach your network, what they can get access to is very, very limited. And then they would have to put forth a lot more effort to move through your network to get other data,” Terry Reinert said.

Red Berry Innovations COO Courtney Reinert said these cyber attacks also come with great financial impact.

“The cost of an interruption like this is devastating for an organization,” she said, “A lot of processes are changing, You also have the lost cost of patients being able to come in. Things are getting canceled.”

Gary Sparks is the Program Director for the Cybersecurity Center at Metro Community College and has 16 years of security experience in the military.

“It takes time to work through data to get an understanding exactly what happened and where it came from,” Sparks said.

Sparks said he receives Department of Homeland Security alerts on possible foreign attacks.

“If it’s, if they think it’s a state actor, they’ll send out an alert to let everybody know that they’re starting to see activity, and different things like that. I haven’t seen anything like that come across,” he said.

Tech experts and patients alike, are hopeful these issues are resolved soon.

“We’re talking about Nebraska Medicine. That’s extremely impactful to the community and to the city and to all those people,” Terry Reinert said.

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