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Ascension Confirms Ransomware Attack, Ongoing Recovery Efforts

May 13, 2024

Ascension, which operates 140 hospitals across the United States, has confirmed that an ongoing service outage was caused by a ransomware attack. 

The organization says that they have implemented procedures to “ensure patient care delivery continues to be safe and as minimally impacted as possible,” while acknowledging significant disruptions to clinical operations. 

“Should we determine that any sensitive information was affected, we will notify and support those individuals in accordance with all relevant regulatory and legal guidelines,” the company said in a press release

Ascension is in contact with the FBI and CISA. Per online updates, the company’s hospitals do not have access to their MyChart electronic health records systems, and a spokesperson acknowledged that “it is expected that we will be utilizing downtime procedures for some time.” 

The incident is part of a wave of ransomware attacks targeting healthcare providers.

According to the office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), ransomware attacks on the healthcare sector nearly doubled from 2022 to 2023. The scale of impact has also increased as ransomware variants have become more sophisticated.

Healthcare providers share common characteristics that have drawn the focus of cybercriminals: 

  • Healthcare delivery relies on shared data, which must be protected to comply with HIPAA and other laws. Data is often centralized, which raises the potential impact of an attack. 
  • Many healthcare providers rely on legacy systems that are more prone to attack. 
  • Impacted systems must be restored quickly; some healthcare providers may feel that they have an ethical duty to pay ransom to mitigate impact on patient care. 
  • By necessity, some systems have a large number of authorized users, which translates to more opportunities for cybercriminals that use phishing or social engineering tactics. 

Unfortunately, these attacks can be catastrophic for patients.

“Ransomware attacks on hospitals are not white collar crimes,” the American Hospital Association notes. “They are threat-to-life crimes because they directly threaten a hospital’s ability to provide patient care, which puts patient safety at risk.”

Related: UnitedHealth Outage: Blackcat Ransomware Gang Disrupts Pharmacies Across U.S.

Hospitals can recover from ransomware attacks by taking a measured approach. 

The best defense against ransomware is the implementation of policy controls that limit the chances of an attack — or lessen the potential impact of an incident. Thoughtful user authorization practices, regular data backups, and phishing/social engineering education can prevent ransomware from affecting key systems.

But even with a thorough disaster mitigation strategy, ransomware infections can happen. provides services to help clinics, hospitals, and other businesses fight back. 

From ransomware recovery to penetration (PEN) testing, disaster recovery deployment, and ransomware investigation, we’re dedicated to providing solutions supported by decades of experience. To learn more, submit a case online or call 1-800-237-4200 to speak with an expert.