In a joint announcement issued by five of Ontario’s hospitals and their IT provider, health officials have alerted patients and staff to the grim possibility that their personal data might be made public by the orchestrators of a recent, malicious ransomware attack.
The cyber-attack effected a service outage at Bluewater Health, Chatham-Kent Health Alliance, Erie Shores HealthCare, Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and Windsor Regional Hospital on the 23rd of October. TransForm, a non-profit organization overseeing the hospitals’ IT systems, identified themselves as victims of this cyber crime in a statement the same day.
Consequently, the hospitals affected have had to postpone and reschedule numerous procedures and appointments. Following a meticulous investigation carried out in collaboration with leading cybersecurity professionals, TransForm divulged on Tuesday that confidential patient, employee, and staff data have been stolen and may be subject to public disclosure.
Explicating the severity of the situation, TransForm noted that there is a potential that the instigators of the attack may make public some of the pilfered data. The hunt to pinpoint the precise data compromised is still underway, and any individuals whose information has been impacted by this cyber onslaught will be duly notified, in concordance with legal requirements.
Persevering tirelessly round the clock to restore impaired systems, TransForm anticipates providing progress updates in the coming week. Cooperating closely with various law enforcement agencies, including local police departments, Ontario Provincial Police, INTERPOL, FBI, and having apprised the Ontario Information and Privacy Commissioner, TransForm is pulling all stops to resolve this delinquent incident with the utmost urgency.
Hospital authorities have assured continued personal patient communication in case of required rescheduling. They’ve also suggested that non-critical patients seek assistance from their primary care providers or local clinics.
TransForm sought to express contrition for this arrogation, “We understand the impact this incident is having on members of our community, including patients and our employees and professional staff, and deeply apologize for the inconvenience this has caused,” and offered thanks for the patience displayed by all during this tumultuous time.