UnitedHealth suspects 'nation-state' behind Change outage: 7 things to know 

Change Healthcare, part of UnitedHealth Group, reported a "cybersecurity incident" on Feb. 21 that disrupted connectivity and healthcare operations nationwide.

Here are seven things to know about the security event and its effects: 

1. Change initially reported disruptions early on Feb. 21, first noting "some applications are currently unavailable" and then reporting "enterprise-wide connectivity issues" on a company status page

2. By the afternoon of Feb. 22, the company said: "Change Healthcare is experiencing a cyber security issue, and our experts are working to address the matter. Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact. At this time, we believe the issue is specific to Change Healthcare and all other systems across UnitedHealth Group are operational. The disruption is expected to last at least through the day. We will provide updates as more information becomes available." 

3. Few details have been released about the nature of the cybersecurity issue, but an updated SEC filing states that UnitedHealth Group identified "a suspected nation-state associated cyber security threat actor" on Feb. 21 had gained access to some Change IT systems.

4. The U.S. government recognizes nation-state adversaries, such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran, to "pose an elevated threat to our national security," according to separate and previous communication from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency. Threats include sophisticated, targeted and malicious cyber activity that is targeted and aimed at prolonged network or system intrusion. 

5. Change, a revenue cycle management services provider, handles 15 billion transactions per year and is the nation's largest commercial prescription processor. 

6. Health systems, hospitals and pharmacies nationwide were affected by the disruptions throughout Feb. 22, including all military pharmacies worldwide. 

7. Few retail pharmacy networks had prepared news releases as of Feb. 22 regarding disruptions or lackthereof to operations; information was not readily available from Walgreens, CVS Health or Walmart. 

8. Change combined with UnitedHealth Group's Optum in October 2022. 

Becker's will continue to update this reporting as new information is made available.

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