A devastating ransomware attack on Wood Ranch Medical in Simi Valley, CA resulted in its permanent closing on December 17, 2019. The attack happened on August 10, 2019 and the ransomware infected the servers. There was widespread encryption of files, which averted the access of medical records. The degree of the attack was so much that it permanently damaged the computer systems so that file recovery became not possible. Even if the provider had patient records backup, those backups were encrypted as well so it was impossible to bring back patient records.
Ransomware attacks are generally launched with the only goal of extorting cash. The attackers encrypt files and ask for ransom. If the company does not pay the ransom, the files remain encrypted. However, paying the ransom does not guarantee file recovery further it encourages more attacks. Therefore the FBI does not recommend paying the ransom.
In this instance, the practice is convinced that the only reason for the attack was to get payment and no patient data are known to have been seen by the attackers or acquired from its servers. However, affected patients were advised to exercise care and keep track of their credit reports and explanation of benefits statements for fraudulent activity. The types of information potentially compromised included names, dates of birth, addresses, health data, and health insurance details.
Wood Ranch Medical’s web page currently just posted its substitute breach notice stating that WRM is committed to the protection of its patients’ information and sincerely apologizes for any trouble this incident may bring about. The ransomware attack affects 5,835 patients and received notification letters by mail. Over the following two months, the practice will work with patients to help them in finding alternate medical practitioners within the area who can provide their healthcare needs.
This occurrence shows the devastating effects of ransomware attacks. In this case, the practice closed down, left staff without work, considerably disrupted patient healthcare and permanently lost the patients’ health records.
This is not the first practice that shut down because of a ransomware attack and it won’t be the last. At the beginning of 2019, Brookside ENT and Hearing Center in Battle Creek, MI, in the same way, had a ransomware attack that completely encrypted patient files. Its owners decided to shut down the business and retired early rather than build up the business from scratch.