Cyber Attack Update: NH-ISAC Issues Petya Mitigations, Nuance Still Down, Heritage Valley Systems Restored

Jan. 29, 2018
The healthcare business of Nuance Communications, a Burlington, Mass.-based technology company, continues to be affected by the global malware incident June 27 that affected multinational companies in at least 65 countries, according to an update posted to the company’s website July 5.

The healthcare business of Nuance Communications, a Burlington, Mass.-based technology company, continues to be affected by the global malware incident June 27 that affected multinational companies in at least 65 countries, according to an update posted to the company’s website July 5.

In other news, Heritage Valley Health System announced July 3 that all acute, ambulatory and ancillary care services have been restored at its medical neighborhoods and satellite community locations, following a cyber security incident that impacted the entire health system June 27.

Nuance provides cloud-based dictation and transcription service to hospitals and health systems, and according to a company fact sheet, the company’s healthcare solutions are deployed in 86 percent of all U.S. hospitals. More than 500,000 clinicians and 10,000 healthcare facilities worldwide use the company’s clinical documentation solutions.

Nuance is offering alternative dictation services, specifically Dragon Medical One or Dragon Medical Network Edition, for customers impacted by the transcription services outage. The company also is offering other alternative dictation services.

Nuance stated in its July 5 update: “As previously disclosed, on June 27, certain systems within the Nuance network were affected by a global malware incident. We are working tirelessly to respond to the incident and ensure continuity for customers. As soon as we became aware of the malware, we immediately took measures to contain it and assess the extent of its effects on our network, including taking certain systems offline regardless of whether they had been impacted.  We understand that these actions and our inability to communicate with our customers and others through ordinary channels has caused significant inconvenience.”

Company officials stated that they have engaged experts in cybersecurity and forensics, “and have called upon the resources of major IT infrastructure vendors to assist us in our recovery efforts.” “We are working around the clock to restore our systems, add further security controls, and ensure our customers can resume functionality with their systems. Importantly, there is no evidence to suggest that any customer information has been removed from the network,” the company said.

Further the company stated that its healthcare business has been the most affected. “We are doing everything within our power to support our healthcare customers and provide them with the information and resources they need to provide quality patient care, including offering an alternative transcription system and additional Dragon Medical solutions.”

In another development, the National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center (NH-ISAC) announced that it had a Petya ransomware vaccine, and also offered mitigation tactics that organizations can follow to minimize the potential risk of infection.

In an NH-ISAC Threat Intel Committee Advisory update, NH-ISAC said organizations can create a “vaccine file.”

“On execution, the known Petya samples delete themselves and perform a check to verify if this deletion is successful. If the file is still present, Petya will exit. This behavior can be turned into a protection mechanism of sorts.  If you create a vaccine file: C:\Windows\perfc and set the permissions of the file to deny write permissions to everyone, including system administrators, infection can’t succeed as Petya will be unable to copy itself over. Keep in mind that some security tools operate on very simple signatures, and it’s possible you’ll get alerts. This prevents all currently known lateral spread methods,” the organization wrote.

NH-ISAC also wrote, “Petya is a derivative of GoldenEye commodity ransomware, equipped with several self-replicating mechanisms.  The self-replicating behavior is what sets it apart from other ransomware, and it is directly responsible for widespread impact.”

The organization also provided a number of mitigation techniques, which can be found on the NH-ISAC website here.

The two-hospital Heritage Valley Health System, based in Moon Township, Pennsylvania, said in its update posted July 3 that despite the lack of access to computer systems following last Tuesday’s cyber-attack, Heritage Valley Sewickley and Heritage Valley Beaver Hospitals, Heritage Valley Medical Group, Heritage Valley Pediatrics and Tri-State Obstetrics & Gynecology physician practices, ConvenientCare walk in clinics and all other community locations remained open and operational. “The only operational interruptions were with lab and diagnostic imaging services at community locations. Those lab and diagnostic imaging services are now fully functional,” the health system stated.

“While providing care without access to computers is challenging, the physicians and employees of Heritage Valley continued to deliver safe patient care throughout this adverse situation,” Norm Mitry, president and CEO, Heritage Valley Health System, said in a prepared statement. “Through regular mock disaster drills the leadership, physicians and staff train to maintain quality care delivery in any situation. During this time we implemented downtime procedures until systems could be restored.” 

The cyber security incident was identified as the same ransomware attack that affected a number of organizations globally last Tuesday. There is no indication that Heritage Valley Health System was specifically targeted.

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