Computers are offline for one of the nation’s largest providers of hospitals and healthcare services, affecting six hospitals in the Las Vegas valley.
Universal Health Services which operates six Valley Health System hospitals said they are responding to a “security issue” that happened early Sunday morning.
Valley Health Systems spokeswoman Gretchen Papez told News 3 in a statement “their network has been taken offline due to an IT issue."
Valley Health System includes Centennial Hills Hospital Medical Center, Summerlin Hospital Medical Center, Desert Springs Hospital Medical Center, Valley Hospital Medical Center, Henderson Hospital and Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center.
Parent company Universal Health Services which operates more than 400 facilities nationwide and in the United Kingdom confirms a similar problem.
In a statement, the company said they have “suspended user access to its information technology applications related to operations located in the United States. “
The Pennsylvania-based company which has about 90,000 employees said the security issue may cause temporary disruption of their clinical and financial operations, "our acute care and behavioral facilities are using their back-up processes until the system is restored.”
But the company said “patient care continues to be delivered safely and effectively. At this time, we have no evidence that patient or employee data was accessed, copied or misused.”
John Riggi, senior advisor for cybersecurity and risk with the American Hospital Association suspects it’s likely a ransomware attack. The incident, part of an increased cyber threat to hospitals and health systems as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Hospitals needed to expand their remote networks thus creating a lot more access points potentially for cybercriminals," Riggi said.
Riggi adds unfortunately, cyber threats will continue but hospitals should always stay prepared.
“Including ensuring multiple copies of offline backups, effective inventory and patching programs and having an updated, cross-function incident response plan,” Riggi said.
Right now, Universal Health Services says they are working with their security partners to restore operations as quickly as possible. There’s no word on how long it will take.