The Maryland Health Department has not published data on coronavirus case rates for nine days as it recovers from a “network security incident,” the department said Tuesday.
The department is focused on “gaining full visibility into the affected network infrastructure” and working to bring affected IT systems back online following the hack, department spokesperson Andy Owen told CNN in an email.
In the meantime, data on vaccinations and hospitalizations, among other information related to the virus, is still being published, Owen said. “Our remaining data reports will be updated at the earliest opportunity.”
Owen declined to answer questions about the cause of the hacking incident or when the department expects to be fully back online.
The Health Department’s webpages first went down earlier this month following the security incident, Owen said in a previous statement. A number of state agencies are working with federal and state law enforcement offices “to address the incident and to gather additional information,” he said.
A spokesperson for Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan did not respond to a request for comment.
The cyberattack marks just the latest example of a hacking incident hindering a health care-related organization during the pandemic. The Los Angeles chapter of Planned Parenthood suffered a ransomware attack in October that compromised the personal information of about 400,000 patients.
Despite the enormous toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on hospitals and clinics, many cybercriminals have not refrained from holding the computer systems of such facilities hostage. There were more than 100 publicly reported ransomware attacks on health care providers in 2020, more than double the amount in 2019, according to Allan Liska, senior intelligence analyst at the cybersecurity firm Recorded Future.
That included a wave of hacks of computer networks at US hospitals in the fall of 2020. One incident forced hospitals at the University of Vermont Health Network to delay chemotherapy and mammogram appointments.
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