Cybersecurity Incident Disrupts Ambulance Access to East Texas Hospitals Since Thanksgiving

UT Health East Texas, a network of hospitals in East Texas, has been unable to accept ambulance arrivals to emergency rooms since Thanksgiving due to a suspected cybersecurity incident, as confirmed by a hospital spokesperson to CNN.

The hospital network is currently functioning under “established downtime procedures” as investigations into the potential security issue continue, with efforts focused on restoring computer systems, according to spokesperson Allison Pollan.

Despite initial communication, Pollan refrained from providing additional information or responding to further queries via phone or email regarding the incident’s specifics or the hospitals’ response.

UT Health East Texas, headquartered in Tyler, operates 10 hospitals and over 90 clinics in the region, catering to a substantial number of patients annually, as stated on its LinkedIn page.

This incident adds UT Health East Texas to a list of hospital groups experiencing cybersecurity disruptions, following similar incidents in Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, and Pennsylvania within the past nine months, leading to ambulance diversions.

The network’s cybersecurity issue began on Thursday, prompting a network lockdown upon detecting a network outage, as indicated in the hospital network’s statement to CNN. Initial expectations of network restoration within 24-36 hours remain uncertain.

Federal agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), responsible for aiding hospitals in defending against cyber threats, have yet to comment. The FBI, typically involved in such hacks, has not issued a statement.

Concerns heighten over long holiday weekends, with heightened alertness among federal officials and critical infrastructure operators due to the increased risk of cyberattacks, particularly ransomware threats.

The ongoing challenge faced by healthcare providers in combatting cyber threats persists, despite efforts from health care associations and federal bodies. CISA recently released a comprehensive cybersecurity plan to fortify hospitals against hacking incidents.

In 2023, there have been 209 publicly reported ransomware attacks on US health care organizations, marking an increase from 162 attacks recorded in 2022, as noted by Allan Liska, a ransomware expert at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, during an interview with CNN.

- Advertisment -ad

Most Popular