scripps health

Cyberattack on Scripps Health Creates Disruptions, Forces Some Rescheduling

Scripps did not provide any information on how the cyberattack occurred or state exactly what systems were affected by the breach

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On Monday afternoon, the heath-care provider had one of its media representatives send a statement from what appeared to be a personal Gmail account, reports NBC 7’s Dana Griffin.

Scripps Health officials said their technology servers were hacked over the weekend, forcing the health care system to switch to offline chart systems and causing a disruption to their patient portals.

Officials did not provide information on how the cyberattack occurred, nor did they share what systems were affected by the breach. A spokesman for Scripps declined to comment Monday when asked whether the incident was a case of ransomware, in which malicious code is introduced to a computer system, rendering it inoperable until a ransom is paid.

NBC 7 heard from a patient who needed care while the attack was affecting the network's system, and from a cyber security expert about the scope of the attack.

On Monday afternoon, the heath-care provider had one of its media representatives send out the following statement from what appeared to be a personal Gmail account:

"As Scripps Health continues to address the cyberattack from this past weekend, our facilities remain open for patient care, including our hospitals, emergency departments, urgent care centers, Scripps HealthExpress locations and other outpatient facilities. Our technical teams and vendor partners are working tirelessly to resolve issues related to the cyberattack as quickly as possible."

Scripps also said the cyberattack had prompted some patients to reschedule appointments and would be contacting them to do so. It's not clear how that contact would be made, since it appeared Scripps' email servers were affected by the outage. Patients who had appointments in "the next several days" can call 800-SCRIPPS for more information. Scripps.org was still down on Monday.

Scripps Health confirmed Sunday their technology servers were hacked overnight.

The health care system's representatives said on Sunday that they suspended access to patient portals and other "technology applications related to our operations at our health care facilities," but stressed that patient care continues using "established back-up processes, including offline documentation methods."

Some appointments were canceled on Sunday and Monday as a result of the breach.

Kimberly Kaye visited the emergency room at Scripps Mercy on Monday. She told NBC 7 that the computers were still down and the staff working there couldn’t run her insurance.

NBC 7's Omari Fleming spoke to an expert about how the attack works, and how patients can avoid becoming victims.

“At first they were like, ‘Well, our computers are down, so if you’ve got any labs or anything, like, you’re not gonna be able to get the results,’ " Kaye said. "And so, like, thankfully, I didn’t need that,” adding that “it was a little bit scary to sign off that paper not knowing whether or not my insurance is going to be covered and if it’s not covered, like, I’m definitely gonna be very upset.”

Kaye also said she had concerns about patient confidentiality.

“It is really important, because this is people’s private information and not something you want to get out," Kaye said. "It’s especially not something you want to be hacked and used against you in a certain way. So, I think, if anything, better security on their end.”

The San Diego County Office of Emergency Services (OES) said on Sunday that ambulances were being diverted from Scripps' facilities to other hospitals in the area but that it was a precautionary measure. On Monday, an employee with AMR, the city's ambulance provider, said Scripps was only taking trauma transports and foot traffic at that time. All other ambulance traffic to Scripps medical centers was being diverted to other facilities.

Local law enforcement and "the appropriate government organizations" were notified of the cyberattack, Scripps Health said.

OES officials said Sunday that its cybersecurity professionals were investigating the cyber attack.

Anne Cutler of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency was asked for a comment regarding the situation. She referred NBC 7 back to Scripps for a comment.