India's AIIMS hit by outages after cyber attack

India’s premier public medical institute, the All India Institute of Medical Services or AIIMS, is experiencing disruptions following a cyber attack.

The outages affect hundreds of patients and doctors who access primary health care services, including patient admissions, discharge and billing systems.

Established in 1956, AIIMS trains thousands of medical and postgraduate students. AIIMS is also one of the largest government hospitals with a capacity of over 2200 beds.

The cyberattack reported Wednesday night in New Delhi appears to be consistent with a ransomware attack, as the attackers changed the extensions of the infected files, hospital officials said.

AIIMS officials told TechCrunch that patient care services have been severely impacted since Wednesday.

The medical institute switched to manual operations, including writing patient notes by hand, as the server recording patient data stopped working. The outages led to long lines and errors in emergency processing.

After the first few hours of interruption, the hospital authorities confirmed the cyber attack in a statement. The outages continued into Thursday.

“We can’t send a lot of blood tests, ask for imaging, and we can’t see past reports or images. Many such surgeries are done manually, which is time-consuming and error-prone,” a resident doctor told TechCrunch on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press.

Hospital authorities later Thursday directed doctors to continue using handwritten notes, including signing birth and death certificates by hand, while the systems remain inactive.

A team from the National Informatics Center is working closely with India’s Computer Emergency Response Team to help restore the organization. Attempts are underway to restore the data from backups, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.

Meanwhile, several law enforcement agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation and Intelligence and Strategic Operations of the Delhi Police, are investigating the incident and the people behind the attack. The police department has too accommodated formal complaint about the matter.

Details of whether the attackers had access to patient data have not yet been publicly announced.

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