Alabama system pays hackers after ransomware attack at 3 hospitals

Tuscaloosa, Ala.-based DCH Health System announced Oct. 5 that it had paid hackers an undisclosed ransom to restore access to locked systems at its three hospitals.

"We worked with law enforcement and IT security experts to assess all options in executing the solution we felt was in the best interest of our patients and in alignment with our health system's mission," spokesperson Brad Fisher told the Tuscaloosa News. "This included purchasing a decryption key from the attackers to expedite system recovery and help ensure patient safety. For ongoing security reasons, we will be keeping confidential specific details about the investigation and our coordination with the attacker."

DCH Health System has been diverting patients at its three hospitals, DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center, since Oct. 2 due to the ransomware attack. While the hospitals have been able to continue treat existing patients, it's unclear when they will begin to admit new patients.

Since paying the ransom, DCH Health System has completed a test decryption and is restoring its systems. The health system has thousands of computer devices within its network, so it is unclear when this process will be completed.

"We cannot provide a specific timetable at this time, but our teams continue to work around the clock to restore normal hospital operations, as we incrementally bring system components back online across our medical centers," an Oct. 5 statement from the health system said. "This will require a time-intensive processes to complete, as we will continue testing and confirming security operations as we go."

Editor's note: Becker's reached out to DCH Health System for comment and will update the story accordingly.


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