Ransomware suspected as AIIMS servers go down, trigger long waits | Latest News Delhi - Hindustan Times
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Ransomware suspected as AIIMS servers go down, trigger long waits

Nov 24, 2022 12:14 AM IST

If confirmed, this could be one of the first instances of a major Indian hospital being affected by a ransomware

A suspected ransomware attack hit servers at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on Wednesday, leading to long waits for patients as registrations, sample processing and billing as computers went down.

According to doctors, services for out-patient (OPD) and in-patient (IPD) departments were affected since 7am on Wednesday, halting all registrations and appointment management. (AFP)
According to doctors, services for out-patient (OPD) and in-patient (IPD) departments were affected since 7am on Wednesday, halting all registrations and appointment management. (AFP)

According to doctors, services for out-patient (OPD) and in-patient (IPD) departments were affected since 7am on Wednesday, halting all registrations and appointment management. Hospital staff was also unable to process patient samples for tests.

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“The registration process is being handled manually, which is causing a delay and resulting in long queues. Patients who do not have a unique health ID are facing problems,” a doctor at the hospital said, on condition of anonymity.

In a statement it issued in the evening, the AIIMS administration said that as of 7.30pm, all services had been shifted to manual processing, blaming .

“Today the server for the National Informatics Centre’s eHospital being used at AIIMS New Delhi was down due to which outpatient and inpatient digital hospital services including smart lab, billing, report generation, appointment system etc, have been affected. All these services are running on manual mode currently,” the statement read.

“The National Informatics Centre (NIC) team working at AIIMS has informed that this may be a ransomware attack which is being reported to and will be investigated by appropriate law enforcement authorities” it added.

NIC said in a statement, Measures are being taken to restore the digital services. This may be a ransomware attack. We will be taking due precautions to ensure such attacks don’t happen in the future.”

Many patients and their families took to social media, posting photos and videos of the chaos at AIIMS due to the server problems.

“Trying to book an appointment at AIIMS via their website since morning and the page constantly is flashing an error,” Medhavi Gupta tweeted.

Another user, Harry Gail tweeted, “...My brother has an OPD appointment on December 6, 2022. I am not able to cancel or reschedule appointment from the site...”

If confirmed, this could be one of the first instances of a major Indian hospital being affected by a ransomware. These sort of attacks involve a malware that locks away access to files, crippling regular functioning. Ransomware operators typically demand a payment -- hence, ransom -- to provide the key to decrypt the files.

Such cyber-attacks have in recent years ground services to a halt in many large hospital and health care services networks in the US, the UK and parts of Europe.

It was not immediately clear if patient records were affected.

AIIMS recently piloted an internal dashboard, the ‘AIIMS main hospital casualty dashboard’, to display the emergency beds status and the number of patients waiting for admissions in real time. Apart from this, the status of CT scans and MRIs is also displayed on the dashboard, with the hospital eventually trying to integrate this system with all aspects of functioning, including appointment booking, monitoring the status of appointments, sample booking, collection etc.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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    Soumya Pillai covers environment and traffic in Delhi. A journalist for three years, she has grown up in and with Delhi, which is often reflected in the stories she does about life in the city. She also enjoys writing on social innovations.

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