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Patient, employee data taken in ransomware attack of 5 Ontario hospitals could be exposed

The IT systems provider for five southwestern Ontario hospitals says patient and staff data have been taken and could be revealed in an ongoing ransomware attack.

OPP, Interpol and FBI are now assisting the hospitals' IT provider

Data obtained by CBC News from both Windsor Regional Hospital and Bluewater Health in Sarnia shows a decline in abortion procedures.

A multi-layered international cyber investigation is underway after five southwestern Ontario hospitals had their IT systems compromised more than a week ago.

Interpol and the FBI are among the law enforcement agencies brought in to assist with what was confirmed Tuesday as a ransomware attack that has caused surgery and appointment postponements — and impacted cancer care treatments.

The IT systems provider, TransForm, said patient and staff data has been taken and information could be exposed.

In a statement, the company said people affected by the cyberattack will be notified.

"We continue to work around the clock to restore systems, and we expect to have updates related to the restoration of our systems in the upcoming week."

It has been four days since the last official update on the cyberattacks that forced computer systems offline at several southwestern Ontario hospitals. The outage itself has now persisted for eight days.

Affected hospitals have had to reschedule and postpone surgeries and appointments.

The hospitals include:

  • Windsor Regional Hospital.
  • Erie Shores HealthCare.
  • Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare.
  • Bluewater Health.
  • Chatham-Kent Health Alliance.

In a statement issued Tuesday afternoon, Windsor Regional Hospital (WRH) said its cancer care treatment has been impacted by the cyberattack.

The hospital said it's in the process of implementing "safe and reliable service" to operate its radiation machines without the equipment being compromised.

WRH said it's organizing patient transfers with other cancer centre organizations and addressing any new referrals for radiation care.

According to the hospital, patients requiring chemotherapy and related services are being treated within WRH — with plans to also do so at other centres.

TransForm is a non-profit founded by the hospitals to run IT, supply chain and accounts, according to the organization's website.

"We have notified all relevant regulatory organizations including the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner."

Andrew Dowie, Conservative MPP for Windsor—Tecumseh, said TransForm continues to work on this, with the help of outside experts.

"Restoring the systems back to where they need to be to offer the appointments and procedures, that is the priority for Transform, for the hospitals, and ultimately any way that the province can support them, certainly I want to share that those efforts are being made," said Dowie.

The statement from TransForm said the hospitals will continue to do their best to contact patients directly in advance if they have a scheduled appointment with one of the hospitals that needs to be rescheduled.

If patients do not need emergency care, they are asked to visit their primary care provider or a local clinic.

"We understand the impact this incident is having on members of our community, including patients and our employees and professional staff, and deeply apologize for the inconvenience this has caused."

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Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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