Accreditation

Six steps to beat computer viruses

Briefings on Accreditation and Quality, February 1, 2018

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Keeping your hospital computers (and your facility) up and running

In the last week of June 2017, foreign-born computer malware attacked the systems of several U.S. companies—including Princeton Community Hospital in Princeton, West Virginia, and Heritage Valley Health System in Beaver, Pennsylvania.

However, unlike other types of malware, “NotPetya” didn’t hold their data hostage. Instead, it completely wiped their files, erasing any patient data that hadn’t been backed up beforehand.

This “NotPetya” malware is named after the 2016 Petya ransomware that it superficially resembles, according to Steven J. Hausman of Hausman Technology Presentations in Gaithersburg, Maryland. But it’s not really ransomware, and despite its so-far limited reach, that’s what makes it so frightening.

Health IT professionals will remember how in the course of just one weekend in May 2017, more than 300,000 computers in 150 countries were held hostage by a ransomware virus called “WannaCry,” including two multistate systems in the U.S. that successfully defended against the initial May 12 attack but found the malware lurking on isolated computers.

That attack came less than six months after CMS issued a warning to hospitals and other providers to tighten up cybersecurity and issued instructions to surveyors to discuss health IT during state agency survey visits.

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