Eastern Health Forced to Shut Down IT Systems, Delay Surgeries Following Cyber Attack

Eastern Health that includes the Box Hill and Mandoorah Hospitals had to shut down its IT systems following a network attack on Tuesday. The organisation runs more than 50 clinical facilities and serves the clinical needs of three-quarters of a million people.

In a statement released on their official website, the organization said: “Late on Tuesday, Eastern Health has experienced a cyber incident.”

“Many Eastern Health IT systems have been taken offline as a precaution while we seek to understand and rectify the situation.

“It is important to note, patient safety has not been compromised.

“Category 1 Elective Surgery will continue as planned. However, the incident has impacted our ability to undertake less urgent (Category 2 and 3 Elective Procedures) which will be postponed to a later date.

“We apologise for the inconvenience this may cause. We thank our staff, patients and their families for patience during this situation and we will keep them informed.”

Rick McElroy, principal cyber security strategist at VMware Carbon Black, while commenting on the incident, said: “The cyber attack across Melbourne’s hospitals only serves to highlight the vulnerability of Australia’s healthcare sector to attacks.

“While the attack methods may vary, most cyber criminals are motivated by a financial incentive. Given the critical nature of data at healthcare organisations, they are often a prime target for attacks, as cyber criminals know patient care is on the line and organisations are more apt to pay.

He said the Australian Cyber Security Centre recently published a cyber security report for the health sector which found that ransomware is thebiggest cyber crime threat to the Australian health sector.

McElroy said healthcare organisations needed to keep three things in mind in order to stay ahead of hackers: a powerful anti-virus system, endpoint protection and IT tracking tools.

He further added that organisations needed to ensure they had a system in place where they could give access to new users easily while maintaining strict security practices at the same time.

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