Ontario hospital website may have infected visitors with ransomware, security firm says

Emily Chung reports:

The website of an Ontario hospital may have infected the computers of patients and staff with ransomware planted on the site during a hack attack, the internet security company Malwarebytes warns.

Norfolk General Hospital, located in Simcoe, Ont., confirms its website was hacked by cybercriminals, but denies that visitors were ever at risk.


Jérôme Segura, a senior security researcher with Malwarebytes, reported in a blog post this week that in late February, Norfolk General Hospital’s website was observed pushing ransomware called Teslacrypt to computers that visited the website.

Read more on CBC News.

Of additional note, once again we see the kinds of problems we have with notification:

Segura contacted the hospital with his findings multiple times, but didn’t hear back for two weeks.

During that time, he said, “a lot more people may have visited the site.”

He also thinks the site may have been serving malware for some time before Malwarebytes detected it. Simcoe, Ont., has a population of just 14,777, so the chance of a Malwarebytes software user visiting the site is relatively small.

Dennis Saunders, the IT lead and systems administrator for the Norfolk General Hospital, said he didn’t get back to Segura initially because Segura’s first email sounded like a sales pitch, and his web hosting company, Kwic Internet, thought the second email was a phishing attempt by cybercriminals.

I’m not sure I know what the solution is to this ongoing notification problem, but if security firms and intel firms can’t seem to get their alerts through, what hope is there for a little blog like this one?

And once again, this incident highlights the need for entities to update promptly. The hospital’s web site was running an older – and vulnerable – version of Joomla.

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