Hospitals hit in nationwide bomb threat scam

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Hospitals across the U.S. received email bomb threats on Dec. 13 as part of a large-scale extortion attempt that authorities say is not credible, according to multiple news sources.

Hospitals as well as businesses, schools and libraries across the U.S. and Canada received emails claiming a bomb was hidden in their facilities, according to The New York Times. The emails demanded a $20,000 bitcoin payment to prevent detonation. The subject line of some emails was "Do not waste your time," according to a version in The New York Times report, shared by the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Police Department.

Many of the hospitals affected were small rural hospitals. The 25-bed Hayward (Wis.) Area Memorial Hospital & Water’s Edge received a threat midday, according to The New York Times. The hospital did not evacuate, but it did cancel scheduled appointments, close its urgent care facility and clinics, and send some staff home. Authorities investigated and cleared the building.

Some other hospitals affected include:

  • Coleman (Texas) County Medical Center, a critical access hospital, evacuated the building and contacted authorities after receiving an email with the subject line, "Think Twice," according to, the news site for local NBC and CBS-affiliated stations.
  • Fraser Memorial Hospital in Macclenny, Fla., evacuated and the Jacksonville Bomb Squad searched the facility. Lake Butler (Fla.) Hospital, a critical access hospital, received a similar threat but was not evacuated, according to a local CBS affiliate.
  • Rush Copley Medical Center in Aurora, Ill., was one of 43 bomb threats reported to Chicago police. Patient care was not affected, according to ABC News.


More articles on cybersecurity:

Why the 1-size-fits-all approach doesn't work for hospital cybersecurity: Q&A with Proficio CISO Dickon Smart-Gill
5 most-read cybersecurity stories in 2018
Aspire Health drops pursuit of hacker, says stolen emails were never opened

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