Work At London Hospitals Disrupted By Ransomware Strikes


A ransomware attack in the week starting June 3, 2024, on Synnovis, the UK healthcare provider, has gone on to force numerous London hospitals to go ahead and cancel services as well as surgeries or re-direct them to certain other facilities.

The incident took place on June 3, 2024, and no wonder it has had an effect on Synnovis’s capacity to deliver care to patients, thereby demonstrating the ripple effect that modern cyberattacks go on to have on healthcare systems and thereby demanding an urgent security response.

Synnovis, which happens to be a partnership between SYNLAB as well as 2 London-based hospital trusts, said that it was the victim of a ransomware attack that went on affect all of its IT systems, thereby resulting in disruptions to many of their pathology services. It is well to be noted that even before the company went on to acknowledge the attack, social media posts were already reporting the kind of effect it was having on the major London hospitals’ services. Significantly, one of the major services that Synnovis offers is blood transfusions, which went on to mean that some of its facilities, such as St. Thomas’ Hospital, King’s College Hospital, as well as Guy’s Hospital, had to end up canceling the operations, and the transplant surgeries at Harefield Hospital and also Royal Brompton Hospital got axed.

Interestingly, the UK National Health Service also joined in with a statement, thereby noting that the incident has gone on to force the hospitals to go ahead and prioritize urgent work.

It is worth to note that the emergency services throughout the UK went on to be available as usual, and the NHS went ahead and directed the patients to go ahead and attend the scheduled appointments unless they were informed otherwise.

There are human consequences due to cyberattacks

These attacks go on to show how ransomware repercussions can go beyond operational as well as financial disruptions and get into the sphere of public health as well being. The attack, apparently, directly went ahead and affected patient health, which not only underscores the urgent effect of the ransomware attacks but also goes on to erode public trust in the institution that’s responsible for safeguarding health as well as well being, says the deputy CISO from LogRhythm. Kevin Kirkwood.

It is well to be noted that high-impact attacks when it comes to healthcare providers have been amping up recently, with numerous high-profile attacks taking place within the US in the early part of 2024.

In February 2024, Change Healthcare from United Healthcare was hit by two attacks, which was indeed a nightmare for healthcare providers that did not end even after the ransom was paid to Black Cat.

In April 2024, it was the turn of Ascension, which happens to operate in 140 hospitals throughout 19 states, that was hit with a cyberattack, taking down multiple essential systems such as EHRs and the MyChart platform when it comes to patient communication, as well as specific medication and test ordering systems.

Growing chances of a payout taking place

The fact is that the attackers happen to target the healthcare providers since the disruption happens to be a matter of life or death, thereby increasing the likelihood of the fact that the facility will pay the ransom, says the VP of a security firm named Semperis, Dan Lattimer. All this goes on to mean that the facilities have to conduct everyday operations, thereby assuming breaches are going to occur. He adds that preparing now for the inevitable is further going to improve the operational resilience of the hospitals and help them prepare better, thereby turning away adversaries so that the threat actors can soften the targets downstream.

However, being ready may not guarantee a provider to get rebound from an attack. Synnovis says that it has gone on to invest quite heavily to make sure that its IT arrangements happen to be as safe as possible, but it is now left apologizing for the disruptions as well as the inconvenience that it has caused to the patients and everyone that’s affected.

The company has gone on to employ a taskforce that is in-house and also with NHS IT so as to evaluate the attacks’ impact and, in a way, respond in the right way, The attack has been reported to law enforcement, and it is also working with the UK National Cyber Security Center as well as the Cyber Operations Team and Trust Partners of the NHS to reduce any further fallout.

Response is better than Reaction

It is pretty evident that merely reacting after an attack happens to be no longer a choice for ransomware victims, especially healthcare providers. As a matter of fact, the risk that such organizations go on to face has gone on to inspire the UK government’s project named Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health- ARPA-H to pledge a sum of $50 million so as to create software that happens to help the hospitals become cyber-resilient.

It is worth noting that one of the biggest issues faced by healthcare organizations is that they happen to work with many third parties whose systems have to be taken into account while assessing how to secure the infrastructure, says Kirkwood. All this happens to include in it tracking, regular assessments of security, and a comprehensive incident-response plan. Through adopting strategies such as these, healthcare organizations can protect their major infrastructure much better and, at the same time, also make sure of the safety as well as trust of their patients.

Healthcare organizations must also go on to identify critical services that happen to be the single point of failure and also have a plan in place for what needs to be done in the event that an attack takes place, says Lattimer. In the case of 90% of the ransomware attacks that take place, the hackers are most likely to compromise the identity system of the organization, which in a way stores the crown jewels of the business.