In an unfortunate series of events last week, a female patient lost her life after hackers targeted Düsseldorf University Hospital in Germany.
As per a report from RTL, the ransomware attack was intended towards a university nearby because the ransom note sent by the hackers addressed a different name. But the hackers accidentally ended up disrupting the hospital’s IT infrastructure and encrypted data on over 30 servers.
Cyberattacks are known to cause severe damages, but they mostly have digital consequences. Sadly, this time, a ransomware attack has been directly linked to the death of a patient. A woman was referred to a healthcare facility located 20 miles away as the hospital was unable to admit emergency patients due to the ransomware attack.
The authorities are investigating the case to see if the delay in the treatment led to the loss of the patient’s life. In that situation, they’ll consider the ransomware attack as a homicide.
The ransomware attack came to a halt after authorities notified the attackers that they had targeted a hospital instead of the university they wanted to target originally. According to an Associated Press report (via The Verge), the hackers provided a digital key to decrypt data but have become unreachable since then.
It’s not the first time that hackers have targeted healthcare institutions in a cyberattack. We have had deadly ransomware like WannaCry that took down the UK’s National Health Service. But no direct loss of life has been reported until now.
Healthcare institutions are often a soft target for the attackers. What makes the situation more critical is that they house various medical equipment connected to the internet. Furthermore, a past study suggests that hospitals that suffer a cyberattack could witness increased death rates.