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Healthcare Should Be Awakened By UnitedHealth’s Cyberattack

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Healthcare Should Be Awakened By UnitedHealth's Cyberattack

(CTN News) – In the wake of a cyberattack on a United Healthcare Group (UNH) subsidiary that crippled America’s health systems for two weeks, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced Tuesday that it would assist doctors and hospitals in finding alternative claim processing platforms.

Change Healthcare, a payment and prior authorization processing system used by hospitals, physicians’ offices, and pharmacies, was paralyzed by the cyberattack on Feb. 21.

The company provided a lengthy status update Tuesday afternoon, acknowledging that the attack was carried out by BlackCat, a well-known ransomware group with ties to Russia.

While the FBI has been aware of BlackCat, also known as ALPHV, and has been successful in breaching the group at the end of last year, it has not been able to shut it down. BlackCat has previously attacked a number of healthcare organizations.

According to the company, it has obtained up to six terabytes of data and received $22 million in bitcoin, a transaction which can be seen on the blockchain. However, it is unclear where the bitcoin came from.

A spokesperson for UHG declined to comment on whether the ransom was paid.

It is estimated that 90% of all claims are being processed uninterrupted by health providers, and pharmacies should be fully operational by Thursday, according to UHG’s statement on Tuesday.

According to the Healthcare company, “We’ve made progress in providing workarounds and temporary solutions to bring back pharmacy, claims, and payment systems online.”

While smaller systems with a heavy reliance on Change Healthcare are suffering, larger systems with multiple vendors or financial resources to pivot quickly to another vendor are less affected.

In spite of this, there are only a few who can claim that they are not affected at all.

Possibly the first instance in which an outage at the interoperability layer compromises the performance of a healthcare system, according to Aneesh Chopra, former chief technology officer from the United States and current co-founder and president of CareJourney.


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