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Opinion of retired FBI agent on Ascension cyberattack

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Some Ascension hospitals in Middle Tennessee are still grappling with the aftermath of a cyber-attack, as reported by FOX 17 News. Despite the ongoing cybersecurity incident, Ascension’s offices and care sites remain open and operational, albeit with certain challenges.

According to Ascension officials, each location is facing unique obstacles following the discovery of suspicious activity on their network, which turned out to be a ransomware attack. Cybersecurity experts shed light on the modus operandi of these cyber criminals, who exploit vulnerabilities in a server to gain access, encrypt data, and move on to other servers within the network. Eventually, the attackers block the victim from accessing the network and demand a ransom, typically in the form of Bitcoin, which is difficult to trace.

Retired FBI Agent Scott Augenbaum highlighted healthcare organizations as prime targets for such attacks due to the critical nature of patient data and operations. These criminals view healthcare information as a treasure trove, containing valuable personal details like names, social security numbers, and sensitive medical records, which they can sell on the dark web.

Augenbaum emphasized the importance of preventive measures, suggesting that training end users to recognize and prevent security threats, such as implementing two-factor authentication, can help thwart such attacks. For individuals affected by cyber breaches, he advised against responding to emails and encouraged them to verify information by directly contacting the organization via telephone.

In response to the incident, Ascension reaffirmed its commitment to patient safety and care, making it a top priority. The healthcare network is actively collaborating with law enforcement, the FBI, and other agencies to investigate the breach and safeguard patient information. Additionally, Ascension is reaching out to patients for assistance by requesting details such as medication lists, prescription numbers, or bottles to ensure continuity of care in the event of system disruptions.

As the investigation continues, Ascension remains dedicated to upholding its standards of patient care and data security. The healthcare network is leveraging external support to address the cybersecurity incident and minimize any potential impact on patients. Patients concerned about the security of their personal information are encouraged to stay informed and cooperate with Ascension’s efforts to mitigate risks and protect sensitive data.

For more updates on this developing story and other news in Middle Tennessee, subscribe to the FOX 17 News Daily Newsletter to receive daily reports right in your inbox. Stay informed and stay connected with the latest developments in your community.

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