Cyber-Incident Causes System Failures at Canadian Children's Hospital

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A leading pediatric hospital in Canada has been hit by a cyber-attack, causing several network systems to go down.

The Hospital for Sick Children, known as SickKids, based in Toronto, Canada, informed the public of the ongoing cyber-incident in a Twitter post on December 20, 2022.

It revealed it has activated ‘Code Grey’ – system failure, as a result of the incident, which came into effect from 9.30 pm ET on Sunday December 18.

In its statement, the teaching hospital said the attack has so far “only impacted a few internal clinical and corporate systems, as well as some hospital phone lines and webpages.”

Additionally, “downtime procedures have been activated where needed.”

SickKids reassured patients that care remains unaffected, although there may be difficulties with calling into the hospital and accessing some of its webpages.

It added that there is currently no evidence that any personal data or personal health information has been impacted.

The hospital’s website appears to be offline at the time of writing.

With the nature and scope of the incident under investigation, the public has been told to check the SickKids Twitter page (SickKids_The Hospital) for further updates.

The hospital has also “notified our government and hospital partners and has engaged with expert third parties to resolve the incident as soon as possible.”

There is currently no information about the cause of the incident.

Hospitals have been heavily targeted by ransomware attacks in the past few years, and last year in the US, a lawsuit was launched alleging that the death of an infant was caused by ransomware.

Earlier this month (December 2022) a hospital in Paris, France, was forced offline following a cyber-attack, while in November, it was reported that a major hospital in Japan had to suspend routine medical services due to a ransomware attack.

Update: In an update posted on its Twitter page on December 22, 2022, SickKids confirmed the incident is a result of a ransomware attack, but "are unable to provide additional information about the nature of the attack at this time."

The hospital added that it expects it to be a matter of weeks before all systems are functioning as normal. However, urgent and emergency care as well as scheduled appointments and procedures are continuing as normal.

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