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University of Maryland Medical System investigating malware attack

The University of Maryland Medical System is investigating a malware attack on its computer system that occurred early Sunday, according to the hospital network.

The ransomware-style attack affected about 250 of the hospital system’s 27,000 devices, said Jon Burns, the hospital system’s chief information officer and senior vice president.

Ransomware is a malicious software — or malware — designed to deny access to a computer or data until a ransom is paid. In this case, Burns said, the infected computers were not encrypted by the malware, so the hospital system did not need to pay a ransom to unlock the devices and the virus was isolated before it spread further, he said.

The attack did not affect patient care, and there was no evidence that patient data or any other information was compromised in the attack, Burns said.

After the medical system became aware of the attack at about 4:30 a.m. Sunday, the hospitals took their networks and devices offline by about 7 a.m. The 250 affected devices — primarily desktop computers — were quarantined, and the remainder of the system was back online by Monday morning, Burns said.

“This was one of those things where nobody wants to go through it, but I think our organization responded in a very good way, both from a technical perspective as well as our caregivers,” Burns said.

Burns said the University of Maryland Medical System notified authorities and has been working with agents from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to investigate the attack.

The University of Maryland Medical System includes medical facilities at more than 150 locations, with hospitals in Baltimore, Bel Air, Glen Burnie, Havre de Grace, Towson and the Eastern Shore.

The ransomware attack is the latest attempt to breach a local hospital group’s technology system. Last month two Iranian hackers were charged in connection with a multimillion-dollar cybercrime scheme that targeted Maryland’s MedStar Health system, government agencies, cities and businesses.

smeehan@baltsun.com

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