India’s leading public medical institute, All India Institute of Medical Services, or AIIMS, is experiencing outages following a cyberattack.
The outages are affecting hundreds of patients and doctors accessing primary healthcare services, including patient admission, discharge and billing systems.
Established in 1956, AIIMS holds thousands of medical undergraduate and postgraduate students. It is also one of the biggest state-owned hospitals, with a capacity of over 2,200 beds.
The cyberattack, reported on Wednesday evening in New Delhi, appears to be consistent with a ransomware attack as the attackers modified the extensions of infected files, hospital authorities said.
AIIMS officials told TechCrunch that patient care services have been badly impacted since early Wednesday.
The medical institute moved to manual operations, including writing patient notes by hand, as the server recording patient data stopped working. The outages have resulted in long queues and errors in handling emergency cases.
After the initial few hours of disruption, the hospital authorities confirmed the cyberattack in a statement. Outages continued through Thursday.
“We are not able to send many blood investigations, request imaging studies and are not able to view previous reports or images. Many such operations are being done manually, which takes more time and is prone to errors,” a resident doctor, who asked not to be named as they were not authorized to speak to the press, told TechCrunch.
The hospital authorities later on Thursday directed doctors to continue to use hand-written notes, including signing birth and death certificates by hand while the systems remain inactive.
A team with the National Informatics Centre is working closely with the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team to help with the organization’s recovery. An effort to restore the data from backups is under way, according to a person with direct knowledge of the incident.
Meanwhile, several law enforcement agencies, including the Central Bureau of Investigation and the Intelligence Fusion Strategic Operations of Delhi Police, are investigating the incident and the people behind the attack. The police department has also lodged a formal complaint on the matter.
Details of whether the attackers could access any patient data have yet to be publicly announced.