Jackson County

Singing River hospital fends off computer hackers

Singing River Health System, Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula on Tuesday Nov. 11, 2013.
Singing River Health System, Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula on Tuesday Nov. 11, 2013. jcfitzhugh@sunherald.com File

Ocean Springs and Singing River hospitals are dealing with a cyber attack that started last night.

Interim CEO Lee Bond said their security protected the system’s data and thwarted the attempts by hackers to break into the hospital system’s computers.

Singing River Health System released the following information:

“An attempted cyber attack at Singing River Health System overnight triggered security protocols to protect the system’s data, thwarting attempts by hackers to break into their computers.

“Late last night our Information Systems Team detected an attempted attack and immediately activated our security protocols,” said Bond, who is also the chief operating officer. “Out of an abundance of caution, we shut down our networks entirely so that we could isolate the problem and reboot our system.

“We are still evaluating what occurred but have detected no compromises of Protected Health Information or patient data in this attempt.”

Julie Roth, an attorney with Lathrop Gage in Overland Park, says hackers are increasingly targeting hospitals not for their medical records but for billing information they can sell to identity thieves.

Bond said clinical teams are trained for downtime procedures in order to continue delivering care despite system interruptions.

“Our processes are high tech but our care is still delivered by highly skilled professionals, so we are good to go with 99 percent of our operations,” he said. “Our IT Team, along with all of our doctors, nurses and technicians, have done a great job caring for our patients despite a few inevitable delays that system downtime creates.”

At 10:30 a.m., Bond said, the health system expects to return to normal operations within hours. The attempted hack comes in the midst of a flu epidemic.

Can’t turn your computer on or off? Is it acting up, running slow, opening pages you didn't click, or displaying pop-ups constantly? There's a good chance your computer's been hacked or infected with a virus. Here’s what to do.