Nov 26, 2019 4:14 PM

Great Plains Health network infected with ransomware

Posted Nov 26, 2019 4:14 PM

Great Plains Health in North Platte says its computer network was infected with ransomware on Monday evening.

GPH issued the following statement:

At approximately 7 p.m. last evening, ransomware was detected in the Great Plains Health computer network. The GPHealth information systems team immediately identified the issue and worked through the night to minimize the impact to local health services as much as possible.

“We are confident that patient information was not breached in any way,” said Mel McNea, chief executive officer. “We will however, do a full audit to further investigate.”

Ransomware is a type of malicious software, or malware, designed to deny access to computer systems. Essentially, encrypted information criminally enters the system and creates obstacles for health system staff members to access parts of the hospital network. In some cases, this inhibits the ability to care for patients.

With both weather-related issues and some systems impacted by the ransomware violation, GPHealth is canceling many non-emergent patient appointment and procedures today. Surgeries and select imaging procedures will continue as scheduled. Patients whose appointments are being cancelled are being contacted by phone. All other scheduled patients should plan to come in weather-permitting. The hospital is not on diversion and is continuing in normal operations.

Great Plains Health retains year-round cybersecurity to continuously safeguard against attacks. This is not just a local incident, but happens nationwide. In 2019 alone, there have been 140 reported attacks targeting state and local governments and health care providers, according to the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.

As more information is made available, GPHealth will release it through local and social media.