Legal Battles Emerge After Ascension Ransomware Attack

The lawsuits, filed in the District Courts of Illinois and Texas, allege negligence on Ascension's part, citing the failure to protect patient data.

by Ashish Khaitan May 17, 2024 in Firewall Daily, Cybersecurity News Reading Time: 3 mins read 0

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Following the recent , legal challenges are mounting for the healthcare giant. Just days after the cyberattack disrupted operations across its extensive network of 140 hospitals, Ascension is facing two proposed class-action lawsuits.

The lawsuits, filed in the District Courts of Illinois and Texas, allege negligence on Ascension's part, citing the failure to encrypt patient data as a critical oversight. This, plaintiffs argue, has exposed them to the risk of identity theft for years to come, following the that forced the diversion of ambulances and the suspension of elective care services.

Class-Action Lawsuit Arises from Ascension Ransomware Attack

While Ascension has not confirmed any compromise of patient data, investigations are ongoing. Plaintiffs contend that had proper encryption measures been in place, data stolen by the cybercriminal group Black Basta would have been rendered useless, highlighting the negligence they claim Ascension displayed.

We are conducting a thorough investigation of the incident with the support of leading cybersecurity experts and law enforcement,” an Ascension spokesperson stated. “If we determine sensitive data was potentially exfiltrated or accessed, we will notify and support the affected individuals in accordance with all relevant regulatory and legal obligations”, reported Healthcare Dive on Thursday.

The lawsuits, filed shortly after the Ascension ransomware attack, target the healthcare provider's alleged failure to implement adequate cybersecurity measures, a move plaintiffs argue could have prevented the incident. Both cases, represented by the same legal counsel, highlight the harm suffered by patients due to the exposure of their private information, which they assert was foreseeable and preventable.

Ascension Lawsuit and Mitigation Tactics

Despite ongoing investigations and assurances of cooperation with authorities, Ascension has yet to disclose whether patients' sensitive information was compromised during the cyber incident. 

“Ascension continues to make progress towards restoration and recovery following the recent ransomware attack. We continue to work with industry leading forensic experts from Mandiant to conduct our investigation into this attack and understand the root cause and how this incident occurred”, stated Ascension on its Cybersecurity Event Update page. 

In parallel, additional cybersecurity experts from Palo Alto Networks Unit 42 and CYPFER have been brought in to supplement the rebuilding and restoration efforts. The focus is on safely and swiftly bringing systems back online. “We are also working on reconnecting with our vendors with the help of our recovery experts. Please be aware that it may still take some time to return to normal operations”, added Ascension. 

The Catholic health system, which spans 140 hospitals and 40 senior living facilities nationwide, employs a workforce of approximately 132,000 individuals. Despite the financial strain imposed by the Ascension ransomware attack, industry analysts note Ascension's robust liquidity and leverage position, offering a significant rating cushion against such one-off events.


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