Analecta Cyber Company Blog: Flint water crisis hack by Anonymous created hassles for hospital patients


Flint water crisis hack by Anonymous created hassles for hospital patients

The Hurley Medical Center in Flint, Michigan suffered a cyber attack originally meant as a sign of protest. The local newspaper The Flint Journal obtained documents detailing the attack believed to be organized by the online group Anonymous. The documents confirmed that the cyber attack was really meant to condemn the Flint water crisis.

The hack created problems for the innocent patients and staff at the hospital. During the investigation, it was discovered that on January 15, the cyber attack happened at the hospital and caused immediate problems for its food service. According to the hospital officials, the delay in meal tray delivery was the attack’s most significant impact. The incident disrupted the lunch service schedule and caused interruption to a point where some patients had to wait until 4 p.m. to receive their lunch trays.

ER delays

The hacking incident also caused delays in the hospital's emergency room. This meant numerous interruptions, such as when staff members were unable to print labels, ID badges or patient discharges. Hospital officials have said that these consequences delayed several tasks but did not prevent hospital staff from treating patients and that all other areas were able to continue care by implementing downtime procedures and bringing on additional staff.

A hospital spokeswoman said the hospital has established policies and procedures in dealing with routine and non-routine computer downtime, and thus patient care was not compromised during the attack.
According to the hospital's IT staff, a virus spread to the majority of the hospital's computers. As a precautionary measure, the hospital staff were advised to change passwords in order to prevent their credentials from being stolen.

Hackers attempted to obtain staff members' personal information and also tried to access their work and personal accounts by using emails, through social media sites and even made phone calls to their work, cell phones and home phones. These were all reported to the Michigan State Police to aid their investigation.
Just about a week after the incident, Anonymous took responsibility for the attack as well as the Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attack encountered by the city of Flint, Baker College and Michigan state offices. They released a video more than four minutes long and threatened those responsible for the Flint water crisis. Flint city officials have yet to confirm those attacks on the city’s website.

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