On the morning of 31 October, Osaka General Medical Center in the city of Osaka, Japan reported a system outage caused by a ransomware attack on its EMR system.
Following the attack, the 865-bed hospital immediately postponed non-emergency outpatient services and turned to manual operations using paper records, according to a news report by public broadcaster NHK. The incident has affected around 1,000 patients, another news report noted.
Hospital officials were quoted as saying that the hackers have encrypted their files and demanded them to pay ransom in Bitcoin. However, the hospital will not negotiate with them.
The general hospital is designated as an advanced emergency medical service centre and cancer hospital in the Osaka Prefecture.
THE LARGER TREND
This is the fourth known cyber incident involving Japanese hospitals this year. In January, both Nippon Dental University Hospital in Tokyo and Kasugai Rehabilitation Hospital in the Asai Prefecture reported breaches in their respective IT systems. Handa Hospital in the Tokushima Prefecture also lost access to its EMR system following a cyber attack in June.
The series of recent cyber attacks in Japan also extend to government-run websites, including the official government portal e-Gov. Japanese authorities have been looking into the possible involvement of pro-Russian groups in these hacks, according to a news report.
Hospitals and other healthcare providers in other parts of Asia-Pacific have also been hit by cyberattacks, including New Zealand-based Pinnacle Midlands Health Network in late September and Australian pathology laboratory Medlab in February.
ON THE RECORD
As cases of ransomware attacks in the healthcare industry continue to rise, it has been ever-important for organisations to secure their cyber-physical devices, according to global cybersecurity firm Claroty.
“The convergence of IT and OT systems, as well as the connection of IoT and IoMT devices, is exposing organisations to new cyber threats. These cyber-physical devices are not always designed with security in mind, leaving vulnerabilities for threat actors to exploit,” Claroty CRO Simon Chassar said.
He recommends organisations to “close their security gaps and have complete asset visibility across all their cyber-physical systems by implementing patching procedures for OT systems, IoT and IoMT devices.” “Furthermore, network segmentation with asset class network policies should be in place to limit the movement of malware and give security teams continuous network monitoring, in order to mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks,” he added.