Hospital Hit by Hackers Results in First Alleged Ransomware Death

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An Alabama mother is suing the Springhill Medical Center, alleging information about her baby’s condition during birth never made it to the obstetrician because a ransomware hack wiped away the extra layer of scrutiny the heart rate monitor would have received at the nurses’ station allowing them to potentially catch the severe brain damage that killed the child nine months later, reports the Wall Street Journal. If proven in court, the case will mark the first confirmed death from a ransomware attack.

The hospital was in the midst of the attack which, over the preceding eight days, had disable computers on every floor, including equipment that monitors fetal heartbeats, resulting in a disconnection between doctors forced to share updates via text that led to them missing the fact that Teiranni Kidd’s daughter was born with the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck. Amid the hack, fewer eyes were on the heart monitors—normally tracked on a large screen at the nurses’ station, in addition to inside the delivery room. Attending obstetrician Katelyn Parnell texted the nurse manager that she would have delivered the baby by caesarean section had she seen the monitor readout. The hospital is arguing in a motion that any obligation to inform Kidd about the hack fell on Dr. Parnell. At Springhill, the hospital refused to pay the ransom when the hackers struck on July 8, 2019. Hospitals have increasingly become targets, with hackers betting that executives will pay quickly to restore lifesaving technology—adding even more pressure to healthcare providers already strained by the pandemic. Springhill declined to name the hackers, but Allan Liska, a senior intelligence analyst at Recorded Future, said it was likely the Russian-based Ryuk gang, which was singling out hospitals at the time.

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