Police, FBI investigating hack at local medical practice

Local News

NEO Urology says none of the patients' confidential information was compromised

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – Police and the FBI are looking into an apparent cyber attack against a local medical practice.

According to the practice, NEO Urology, none of the patients’ confidential information was compromised.

Staff in Boardman and Austintown offices first realized that something was wrong Monday morning.

“Our staff came in, and they were trying to get on the computer, and there was a notice there on the computer saying that we had been affected by this virus,” said Dr. Dan Ricchuiti.

Workers say a hacker operating overseas essentially set up a complex firewall around their IT and data systems.

“They couldn’t see our data. We couldn’t see our data. We couldn’t function, and they knew this. That was the intent of this, to keep us from being able to function so that we would have to pay a ransom,” Ricchuiti said.

Doctors said initially, the hackers demanded payment in crypto-currency. Instead, the practice’s IT firm stepped in and brought in a company specializing in ransomware attacks.

“The negotiations went on between our tech company and this third party out of Florida, and these people through email, and they were demanding $85,000 in Bitcoin, and fortunately, they didn’t get it,” Ricchiuti said.

Doctors stress that none of their patient information was ever compromised, and after working around the clock to overcome the virus, offices finally reopened Thursday morning.

Still, three days were lost.

“Our phones didn’t work. Our faxes didn’t work. Our computers obviously didn’t work. We couldn’t communicate with hospitals, all the things that we normally do as a doctor’s office, we couldn’t do,” Ricchiuti said.

For now, both the Boardman police and the FBI are looking into the attack, but workers say they will also be scrubbing their computer system and looking for ways to keep this from happening again.

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