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Michigan hospital system says it’s suffered ransomware attack

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McLaren Health Care confirms the attack and is working to determine how many individuals have been affected.

McLaren Health Care says it has suffered a ransomware attack, as the Michigan system joins many others that have experienced data breaches.

The organization said it recently detected suspicious activity on its computer network and began an investigation to determine if there was an exposure of private health information.

In a statement sent to Chief Healthcare Executive®, McLaren confirmed that it has suffered a cyberattack.

“Based on our investigation, we have determined that we experienced a ransomware event,” McLaren said in a statement. “We are investigating reports that some of our data may be available on the dark web and will notify individuals whose information was impacted, if any, as soon as possible.”

McLaren says its systems are operational and “we continue to provide the exceptional care for which we are known.”

Information Security Media Group reported that a ransomware group known as BlackCat boasted to have stolen private information from 2.5 million McLaren patients.

McLaren says it has been working with law enforcement officials and also retained cybersecurity experts in their investigation of the incident.

The BlackCat group was first identified in November 2021, according to a Jan. 13 report from the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, has targeted the health sector, according to a December 2022 analyst note from the Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordinating Center. Federal officials say BlackCat runs “one of the most sophisticated” ransomware operations.

Based in Grand Blanc, Michigan, McLaren Health Care operates 13 hospitals in Michigan and more than 100 primary care practices. McLaren also operates HMOs covering more than 700,000 lives in Michigan and Indiana.

More hospitals have been victims of ransomware attacks over the past year, including large systems such as HCA Healthcare. HCA said in July that a cybersecurity attack affected nearly 11 million patients. From January through late June, more than 220 cyberattacks have targeted hospitals and health systems, according to the American Hospital Association.

Analysts project this could be a record-setting year in terms of the number of victims of health data breachs. More than 40 million Americans were affected by breaches of private health information during the first half of the year, according to Critical Insight, a cybersecurity firm.

Cybersecurity experts tell Chief Healthcare Executive that health systems need to expect more attackers going after their private data, and also warned of growing threats powered by artificial intelligence. The average cost of a health data breach has reached nearly $11 million, according to a report from IBM Security.

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