India’s leading public medical institute, the All India Institute of Medical Services, or AIIMS, is experiencing outages following a cyberattack.
The disruptions affect hundreds of patients and doctors accessing primary health care services, including patient admissions, discharge and billing systems.
Founded in 1956, AIIMS has thousands of undergraduate and graduate medical students. It is also one of the largest public hospitals with capacity over 2200 beds.
The cyberattack, which was reported on Wednesday evening in New Delhi, appears to be consistent with a ransomware attack as the attackers changed the extensions of infected files, hospital authorities said.
AIIMS officials told TechCrunch that patient care services have been hit hard since Wednesday morning.
The medical school switched to manual operations, including writing patient records by hand, as the server recording patient data stopped working. Outages have led to long queues and errors in handling emergency cases.
After the first few hours of the break, the hospital management confirmed Cyber attack in a statement. The outages continued until Thursday.
“We can’t send many blood tests, request imaging studies, and can’t review previous reports or images. Many of these surgeries are done manually, which takes more time and is prone to errors,” a local doctor, who asked not to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the press, told TechCrunch.
Hospital authorities later Thursday directed physicians to continue to use handwritten notes, including signing birth and death certificates by hand, while the systems remain inactive.
The National Informatics Center team is working closely with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to help with the recovery of the organization. Efforts are being made to restore data from backups, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.
Meanwhile, several law enforcement agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence and Strategic Operations Directorate of the Delhi Police, are investigating the incident and the people behind the attack. The police department also settled official complaint about it.
Details on whether the attackers could have accessed any patient data have yet to be publicly announced.