Computer hackers targeted the establishment on Saturday evening, demanding a ransom, the amount of which was not revealed. Some patients had to be evacuated as a precaution, and an investigation was opened.
After the cyberattack that hit its services this weekend, the Versailles hospital center, located in Chesnay-Rocquencourt (Yvelines) continues to operate in slow motion on Monday. It is still impossible for the approximately 3,000 members of staff to communicate electronically, and several patients have been evacuated to other establishments in the Ile-de-France region.
All the services of the hospital center are affected, including the André Mignot and Richaud hospitals, as well as the DEspagne retirement home. Last August, it was the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital which had been targeted by a similar attack, testifying to the interest of hackers for French hospitals, but also to their weak computer security.
“Stolen and encrypted” files
The computer attack took place on Saturday evening. As revealed franceinfoaround 9 p.m., some computers in the hospital center were blocked, simply displaying the message: “all your important files have been stolen and encrypted. Follow our instructions”.
“A ransom, the amount of which I do not know, has been requested but we do not intend to pay it”, explained this Monday to AFP Richard Delepierre, co-chairman of the supervisory board of the establishment and mayor of Chesnay-Rocquencourt. In France, public establishments never pay ransoms because the law forbids them to do so.
“We are facing a new way of waging war. This is not an isolated attack, it is an operation of the same nature as the attack on the Corbeil hospital”, also indicated Richard Delepierre. At the end of August, the South Francilien Hospital Center (CHSF) in Corbeil-Essonnes had been the victim of a computer hack similar to that which targets that of Versailles.
In recent months, similar attacks had already targeted the Versailles hospital center, but they had all been thwarted. The software behind this weekend’s digital raid has been identified, and is known to cybergendarmes.
Hacker groups usually use ransomware, or “ransomware”, which exploits vulnerabilities in their target’s computer security systems to block the ciphers, before demanding a ransom to unblock them.
computer system shutdown
The Versailles hospital center has nearly 700 beds. Faced with the scale of the attack, management decided to shut down the entire computer system. “You forget all the means of computer communication: you communicate the old way, with paper and pencil”, explained Richard Delepierre, the Modem mayor of Chesnay-Rocquencourt.
“It’s a hassle, we have to redo everything on paper by hand since this morning and the doctors have to do all their drug prescriptions manually too”, explained on condition of anonymity three nursing assistants working in the hospital center .
The care machines continue to work, but it is their “networking” that poses a problem, detailed the Minister of Health François Braun, who visited the hospital center on Sunday.
“So more people are needed to monitor patients in the intensive care unit, you need a person in front of each room to monitor the screens,” he explained.
Due to its scale, the attack had an impact on the care of patients by the Versailles hospital center. The white plan was triggered, and surgical operations were partially deprogrammed. The nursing staff continue this Monday to make every effort to maintain outpatient care.
Additional personnel have been called in. But a decision has already been made to transfer several patients. François Braun announced on Sunday the transfer of six patients, including adults in intensive care and young patients who were in the neonatology department. The intake of new patients has been drastically reduced.
A crisis unit, in conjunction with the Île-de-France Regional Health Agency (ARS), has been set up at the Versailles Le Chesnay hospital center to try to deal with the consequences of this attack.
On BFMTV on Sunday, the Minister in charge of the Digital Transition and Telecommunications Jean-Noël Barrot indicated that a complaint had been filed.
“The gendarmerie will carry out the investigation and provide solutions to the hospital,” he said.
The investigations were entrusted to the Gendarmerie’s Center for the Fight against Digital Crime and the Sub-Directorate for the Fight against Cybercrime of the Judicial Police. Even before the hospital’s complaint on Sunday, the Versailles prosecutor’s office had relinquished the case in favor of the Paris prosecutor’s office, which has national jurisdiction for cyberattacks.
The cyberattack on the Versailles hospital center comes just 3 months after the one that targeted the Corbeil-Essonnes hospital center, whose operation had been disrupted for several weeks at the end of August.
“We are so behind on the computer systems of the hospital, we have faults everywhere”, lamented on BFMTV on Sunday Patrick Pelloux, president of the association of emergency physicians of France.
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What we know about the cyberattack that affects the Versailles hospital center
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