Data Privacy & Cybersecurity » Ascension Employee Downloaded Malware

Ascension Employee Downloaded Malware

July 2, 2024

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After an employee downloaded malware, leading to a ransomware attack on Ascension, one of the largest private healthcare systems in the United States, the company is now providing more answers about what happened. 

According to Dave Muoio, writing in Fierce Health, Ascension has identified how the attacker gained access to its systems and believes that the hacker stole a subset of its files that “may contain protected health information and personally identifiable information for certain individuals.” 

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A spokesperson wrote that the system has nearly restored its electronic health records. Its investigation revealed that the attackers “were able to take files” from seven of the health system’s roughly 25,000 network servers. Those servers “are used by our associates primarily for daily and routine tasks,” according to Ascension, which claims that there is no evidence that full patient records or other data were taken.

“Right now, we don’t know precisely what data was potentially affected and for which patients,” Ascension wrote. “In order to reach those conclusions, we need to conduct a full review of the files that may have been impacted and carefully analyze them.”

The company has discovered how the attacker breached its defenses. “An individual working in one of our facilities accidentally downloaded a malicious file that they thought was legitimate,” according to Ascension. “We have no reason to believe this was anything but an honest mistake.”

Ascension runs 140 hospitals and 40 senior living facilities across the country. It employs about 132,000 people and reported over $28 billion in revenue and billions in operating losses during its most recent fiscal year. 

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