New Jersey hospital pays ransomware attackers to avoid jeopardizing lives

Ransomware reports keep piling up in the United States, with
a new incident in New Jersey adding to a long string of cyber-attacks targeting
government institutions and critical infrastructures across North America.

Hackensack Meridian Health, the largest hospital system in
New Jersey, fell victim to a ransomware attack early last week but was advised
by experts not to disclose the hack until Friday, December 13.

Hackensack Meridian hospitals offer assisted living,
behavioral health, maternity, and clinical services, and operates the psychiatric
facility Carrier Clinic.

The hospital decided to pay attackers’ ransom demands to regain control over its systems and avoid placing lives at risk by delaying care to patients. The system said it holds insurance coverage for cyber incidents, the Associated Press reports (via

Even so, the attack still forced Hackensack Meridian
hospitals to reschedule non-emergency surgeries. Doctors and nurses were also
forced to deliver care without access to electronic records. The network’s
primary clinical systems are back up, and IT experts have been brought in to get
its applications back online.

According to a statement by Hackensack Meridian officials,
there is no indication that patient data has been compromised in any way. The
system notified the FBI and other relevant authorities of the breach. It is investigating
the incident alongside cybersecurity and forensic experts.

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