Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Five servers belonging to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) were affected by a recent cyber attack, with an estimated 1.3 terabytes of data being encrypted, according to India’s Minister of Electronics and Information Technology, Rajeev Chandrasekhar.

Speaking in the country’s Upper House, Chandrasekhar said the attack was caused by “improper network segmentation” and resulted in the “non-functionality of critical applications”. He added that the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) had advised on “necessary remedial measures”. In the Lower House, the Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Bharati Pravin Pawar, said the cyber attack had not resulted in a ransom being demanded, although a message had been discovered on a server “suggesting it was a cyber attack”.

In addition to the risk of data leak, the hack has caused chaos at AIIMS. According to a PTI report, there were long lines at the hospital as its online appointment system remained offline. To deal with the rush, the hospital had to deploy additional staff. All of the hospital’s services, including outpatient and inpatient departments and labs, have had to operate manually. Billing counters and diagnostic centers have experienced lengthy queues as the server outage persisted for over a week.

Previous investigations into the cyberattack that disrupted the operations of the premier healthcare facility revealed that the IP addresses of two emails linked to the attack traced back to Hong Kong and China’s Henan province. These emails were identified from the headers of encrypted files that were used by the hackers.

AIIMS will now have to thoroughly check each system on its network to ensure that there is no remaining malware. This is a time-consuming process, and due to the severity of the hack, it may take a while for the servers to be restored. According to PTI, the data of approximately 3-4 crore patients may have been compromised in the hack, and the hackers have reportedly remained firm in their demand for INR 200 crore.

According to industry reports, healthcare accounts for approximately 30% of the world’s data volume, and this trend is expected to increase in the wake of the pandemic as there will be a greater need for data collection to prevent future pandemics. That’s why, experts say that healthcare providers should double-down on their cybersecurity infrastructure.

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