A ransomware cyber attack hit the Hospital Clinic de Barcelona, resulting in the cancellation of surgeries and medical appointments.
Computers in the hospital's laboratories, clinics, and emergency room shut down following the attack on Saturday, the newspaper El País reported. As a result, up to 3,000 patient checkups, including radiotherapy visits, and 150 non-urgent surgeries were canceled on Monday because the hospital's staff couldn't access patients' clinical records.
A ransomware attack is when cyber criminals encrypt an organization's information and ask for a ransom to regain access to the files.
Segi Marcén, telecommunications secretary for the regional Catalonia government, said the hospital would not pay the ransom even if the criminals demanded it and is now focusing on recovering the information.
The attack was allegedly organized by The RansomHouse gang, which claims to be a "professional mediators community" and denies producing or using ransomware, Cybernews reports.
According to El País, the hospital's staff did not have access to electronic patient data-sharing systems and were writing on paper instead. Meanwhile, urgent cases were diverted to other healthcare facilities.
The risk of cyberattacks increased following unprovoked Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022. Spain's National Cybersecurity Institute (INCIBE) has previously reported a cyberattack surge. According to Cybernews, the cybersecurity alert level was increased to level three out of five in March.
Hospitals have been increasingly targeted by cyber attacks globally. In 2021, some 66% of healthcare organizations were hit by ransomware, up from 34% in 2020. Such attacks can disrupt hospital operations, resulting in increased mortality and exposing medical records. Having such sensitive data stolen can lead to severe financial consequences.