[Update] UHS Ransomware Attack 2020: Company Still Not Confirming Cyber Attack; May Take Days Before Getting Back Online

Just over the weekend, the Fortune 500 company and one of the United States’ largest healthcare providers, Universal Health Services (UHS), was attacked by ransomware that rendered the company’s computers and systems shut down. Despite the grievous attack, UHS assures the public and its beneficiaries that sensitive information is safe from compromise and hack.UHS(Photo : UHS)

Several UHS facilities, including those in California and Florida, were subjected to an attack that shut down the company’s systems, locking computers and phone systems. The attack was a malicious ransomware attack, similar to the characteristics of the ‘Ryuk’ malware.

According to NBC News, UHS’ systems experienced the attack last Sunday, September 27, and was considered to be one of the largest attacks in US history. UHS’ more than 400 locations had its whole systems disabled with computers referencing the ‘shadow universe,’ heavily characterized by ransomware attacks.

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UHS Ransomware Attack: We are in control, Just a Security Issue

UHS recently released a statement, saying that its systems and IT security are having issues, still not confirming that it was indeed a ransomware attack. However, several people from the company who wishes not to be named came forward and confirmed that it was a form of malicious entities that attacked the company.

The Fortune 500 company assures its beneficiaries, patients, and even its employees that no sensitive data were taken. Currently, UHS is trying to restore its systems and get it back online, especially during this time of pandemic brought on by the COVID-19 virus.

UHS assures the public that there are no misuse, illegal replications, and access to the vast database it holds regarding patients’ medical information, which is sensitive and confidential. The company is now observing the ‘offline documentation method’ and will continue its operations normally.

Patient care within the company is still safely delivered and continued effectively, says UHS in its statement posted on the morning of September 28. UHS is known to have Cerner, a healthcare technology company, to file its digital health records.

Ryuk Ransomware

ransomware(Photo : Kasperksy)

The ransomware attack is speculated to be brought by the ‘Ryuk’ ransomware. This was orchestrated by a Russian cybercrime group called Wizard Spider, according to Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm. The group aims to target large companies and corporations such as the US’ Universal Health Services.

The ‘Ryuk’ ransomware was operational since 2018, notorious for a high-ransom return against huge companies. This method is known as ‘big-game hunting’ as the group attacks high profits. According to Tech Crunch, ‘Ryuk’ ransomware previously targeted the US Coast Guard and shipping company, Pitney Bowes.

This year, several ransomware groups said that it would step down from targeting health care systems, giving way to the deadly pandemic, the Novel Coronavirus. However, Wizard Spider seems uninterested in entering the agreement and proceeds to attack UHS. 

Health care systems are crucial during this time, and this attack is a massive toll for its patients, once proven that certain information was taken. Ransomware and its operators are profiteers that use methods to exploit people and vulnerable systems.

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