Ransomware Attacks Hospitals – Don’t Let it Happen at Houston Methodist

For Everyone

Last week, ransomware attacks took two hospitals offline for several days. Non-emergency medical procedures were cancelled. Patients had to wait to receive care. One hospital was forced to use pen and paper to allow patient care to continue, because they couldn’t access their electronic health record system.

In 2019, there were 140 reported attacks targeting state and local governments and health care providers. Ransomware is different than phishing scams. It’s a malicious software that spreads quickly across computer networks and encrypts them, holding sensitive information hostage until victims pay the hacker. This year multiple hospitals have been attacked crippling their computer systems and limiting their ability to treat patients. Researchers at Vanderbilt University found that care centers that experienced a breach had a deterioration in timeliness of care and patient outcomes.

While these incidents have not impacted Houston Methodist, we must always remain vigilant. Each of us plays a crucial role in preventing ransomware attacks.

Here’s how you can help

• Never open any attachments from your Gmail, Yahoo mail or other non-Houston Methodist email when using your work computer.

• Stay on the lookout for questionable emails, including phishing messages, to help prevent security breaches at work and at home. Phishing is a form of fraud where hackers impersonate people or organizations you know, like your bank or a shopping site, to con you into giving up your log in and other information.

• Unless you know the sender, do not open links or attachments from external senders. External emails with an [EXTERNAL] tag in the subject line let you know it’s from an external sender.

• If you’re unsure about an attachment, avoid opening files with spelling errors or a strange string of characters in the file name, EXE or ZIP file formats or in response to an unexpected request.

• For sites you frequently visit, add them to your favorites as a bookmark and access them from there.


As always, send any suspicious email to SpamSpotting@HoustonMethodist.org.

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