Georgia health system restores IT network 2 months after ransomware attack 

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Savannah, Ga.-based St. Joseph's/Candler has returned to "fully operational" status after discovering a ransomware attack on its IT systems in June, Savannah Morning News reported Aug. 18. 

After discovering "suspicious network activity" June 17, St. Joseph's/Candler shut down its IT systems and switched to backup operation methods, including paper documentation, to limit the potential effects of a ransomware attack. Last week, the health system announced that it found that the hacker gained access to its network between Dec. 18, 2020, and June 17, 2021. 

While St. Joseph's/Candler did not cancel any surgeries or procedures because of the attack, the incident temporarily disrupted telephone communications and hit computer systems, making certain files inaccessible. Cancer patients also were asked to verify their appointments for a period of time, according to the report. 

"We're fully operational right now," St. Joseph's/Candler CEO and President Paul Hinchey told the publication. "There are a few hotspots where we have to change out computers. But in terms of the hospital ... we're back electronically, which was a big sea change for us, because we went from a fully integrated system to a paper system, and we haven't done that in 25 years." 

The health system still is investigating the cyberattack but did begin notifying patients and employees Aug. 10 that their personal information was exposed as a result of the incident. Exposed information included names, Social Security numbers, addresses, patient account numbers, financial details and health insurance plan member ID numbers. 

St. Joseph's/Candler has updated its technical security measures for monitoring IT systems and is offering free credit monitoring services to affected individuals.

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