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“The whole system is upset”

“The whole system is upset”
“The whole system is upset”

Medical records obscured. Canceled radiological and laboratory tests. Registration of patients in the emergency room “suspended”: thus the entire network and telecommunications system of the hospital St. John of Sorrows yesterday jumped for a hacker attack. Investigations to ascertain what happened are still ongoing. Meanwhile, a complaint has been filed with the Postal Police. While doctors, nurses and health managers are grappling with the many inconveniences caused by the down system.

The alarm for malfunctioning started in the morning at dawn from the emergency room of the hospital. When staff on duty were no longer able to access patient records. Then all the control procedures were activated. But no one has been able to access the operating system which has knocked out 300 servers and 1500 clients (browsers).


The health management already confirmed the blackout in the early afternoon: “We are working hard to restore all functions as soon as possible, ensuring the continuity of hospital care,” wrote the health manager Maria Pia Ruggieri in an official note. With IT technicians for hours busy restoring the system and saving all data. The doctors, on the other hand, are manually reporting the results of the medical examinations of the patients. While transfer requests are forwarded via personalized email.

But the operational inconveniences are added to the medical ones: “Blocking a hospital means causing deaths among defenseless people” comment the health workers of the structure who have no doubts: “It was a very serious hacker attack”. In fact, due to the out of order system, the hospital was cut off from the regional hospital platform. Investigators will now need to determine if the inpatient information has been copied. It has also not yet been clarified whether a ransom has been requested. And if there is a connection with the hacker attack last July. Also in this case, as confirmed by the health management of the San Giovanni hospital, it was a “ransomware-type cyber attack”.

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So the two platforms were attacked with the same system: cybercriminals with a telematic virus limited access to the hospital’s information system which has become unreadable. A specific cryptographic key is required to unlock it. And it is at this point that blackmail begins. On the night of July 30, the web pirates attacked the Region’s platform blocking the booking system for vaccines, orders, IT and health data.

The maxi investigation was immediately extended to investigators from the US FBI and those from Europol, the European center for cybercrime. There is still no suspect in the investigation file opened by the prosecutor and coordinated by the Anti-terrorism pool and by the Cybercrime pool. As the investigations later established, the cyber criminals had already arrived last June with anomalous accesses to the computer network. The movements inside the Lazio network, which were supposed to turn on the light, were not noticed. The cyber attack caused slowdowns and inconvenience to the entire regional network.


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