NOW: Crippling Cyberattack Hits US

( – In an alarming development seeking to cripple America from within, a key tech service provider for pharmacies fell victim to a cyberattack allegedly carried out by a nation-state actor.

The onslaught on Change Healthcare led to significant delays in prescription refills nationwide.

This company operates under Optum Solutions, which in turn is part of the major healthcare enterprise UnitedHealth Group. Optum indicated that this cyber episode seems to have only affected Change Healthcare but no other divisions of UnitedHealth.

Recently United HealthCare went public with an 8-K filing and acknowledged a significant cyber event. It disclosed that Change Healthcare’s defenses were breached by a suspected nation-state entity that got temporary system access before systems were deactivated.

The HIPAA Journal highlights Change Healthcare’s role in carrying out 15 billion healthcare transactions each year, which serves about a third of the U.S. population with its connectivity solutions.

Deactivating Change Healthcare’s systems led to widespread delays in pharmacies across the nation including a Michigan-based outlet requesting patrons to wait for medication refills by a day if possible.

Swimlane’s leak security automation specialist Nick Tausek pointed out the potential broader implications of the attack beyond just pharmacy delays. “Change manages patient payments across the healthcare sector, with access to medical records and sensitive patient information,” Tausek explained.

He added, “Pharmacies across the country are already reporting delays in filling prescriptions and providing services as a result of this attack, marking the real-world dangers to human health cyberattacks can cause.”

He further noted the healthcare sector’s weakness to cyber incursions due to its dependency on external data management services like those provided by Change Healthcare.

Javvad Malik, KnowBe4’s advocate for security awareness, said better security measures were needed in the face of constant cyber threats endangering the healthcare system.

He stated, “The healthcare industry continues to be a prime target for cybercriminals, so it’s crucial that healthcare providers not only react effectively to threats but also proactively work to fortify their systems against future attacks.”