The DCH Health System released a statement on its website on Oct. 5 at 8:30 a.m. addressing the details and action plan for the ransomware breach and IT system outage it faced last week.

The statement read that through the help of local law enforcement and private experts in information technology, DCH is accessing its own backup files to keep its three area hospitals running smoothly and restore many of its systems that were affected by the breach.

WVUA 23 reported on Oct. 1 that according to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, ransomware is malicious software designed to deny access to a computer system or data until a ransom is paid, usually by way of cryptocurrency. These attacks typically spread through opening phishing emails or by unknowingly visiting an infected website.

DCH Regional Medical Center, Northport Medical Center and Fayette Medical Center have been closed to new patients unless their care is critical since the breach began on Oct. 1. It is unclear whether someone paid the threatened ransom, in a still-undisclosed amount, but the statement did read that they have “obtained a decryption key from the attacker to restore access” to their locked systems.

“We have successfully completed a test decryption of multiple servers, and we are now executing a sequential plan to decrypt, test and bring systems online one-by-one.” the statement read. “This will be a deliberate progression that will prioritize primary operating systems and essential functions for emergency care.”

The statement also noted that the rehabilitation process will take quite some time to complete, but asked for patience and cooperation as administrators work “around the clock” to get the job done. For the time being, the DCH staff is keeping its doors open, but available care is selective and slim.

“As we complete this process, all three hospitals will continue to be on diversion for all but most critical patients through the weekend,” the statement read. “Our Emergency Departments will continue to see patients who bring themselves to the hospital.”

The statement concluded with a note of appreciation to DCH’s staff and the promise that more information will be released soon.

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