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Rural southwestern Ontario hospitals struck by cyberattack

Two rural hospitals in Listowel and Wingham, Ont. are the latest victims in a string of southwestern Ontario cyberattacks.

Hospitals in Wingham and Listowel affected; emergency rooms remain open

Two rural hospitals in Listowel and Wingham, Ont. are the latest victims in a string of southwestern Ontario cyber-attacks. (Google Maps)

Two rural hospitals in Listowel and Wingham, Ont. are the latest victims in a string of southwestern Ontario cyberattacks.

The IT system of the Listowel Wingham Hospital Alliance was shut down last week as the result of a ransomware attack, according to a news release posted to the hospital alliance's Facebook page Friday.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to a victim's data until a ransom is paid.

"We will not be in a position to link and share information with other health care organizations across the province until we can assure them that our systems are safe and clean," the hospital alliance said in the news release.

The hospital alliance said Friday it expected the outage to last "a number of days."

Impact to patients

The emergency departments in both Listowel and Wingham remain open and operational.

Non-urgent hospital visitors can expect to wait longer, have their care postponed or be redirected to other healthcare providers.

Hospitals in Palmerston, Walkerton and Goderich have offered to help take on patients in the meantime.

The Fisher Family Primary Care Centre and Royal Oaks Medical Clinic are open, but staff do not have access to patient lists. Patients are asked to call the clinics before coming in.

The hospital alliance said it is endeavouring to reopen certain hospital clinics on Monday.

"A full team of experts are currently engaged in assisting us to recover from this outage," the news release said.

The hospitals' ransomware attack came just days after similar cyberattacks at the city of Woodstock and the Woodstock Police Service.

The city of Stratford was hit by a ransomware attack in April and paid around $75,000 in Bitcoin to restore access to its information systems. The city has submitted a cyber-insurance claim to offset the costs of the attack and expects to pay a $15,000 deductible.

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