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Ransomware attack behind service disruptions at Maryland Health Department

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Posted at 12:17 PM, Jan 12, 2022

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — For the first time, the Maryland Department of Health has confirmed that ongoing service disruptions to their website are as result of a ransomware attack.

It all started back on December 4, when the department detected unauthorized activity on one of its servers.

This prompted the department's servers to be taken offline.

As result, the state's COVID-19 surveillance dashboard which tracks daily cases was made unavailable.

Vaccination and hospitalization data was put back online by December 8, but it wasn't until December 20 when all other COVID-19 tracking data was made available again.

RELATED: Going on two weeks since Maryland Health Department has updated COVID-19 case numbers

Still, some services remain impacted. WMAR-2 has received numerous complaints of nurses being unable to obtain or renew their licenses due to a system outage at the State’s Board of Nursing. That has also reportedly affected new nursing school graduates, who are looking to schedule a date to take their boards.

The cyberattack did not disrupt the State’s ability to test for COVID-19 or administer vaccines.

According to Maryland's Chief Information Security Officer, Chip Stewart, the State has refused to pay any of the hackers extortion or ransom demands.

At this time, Brady doesn't believe any state data was accessed or compromised as result of the attack.

Officials are still investigating a motive, but it's well known that government health and hospital systems have been the frequent target of malware attacks.

In the meantime, while IT staff continues its work to get everything back online, the department plans to order a total of 5,400 laptops and other needed electronic devices so representatives can get back to helping customers as soon as possible.