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Touro Hospital hit by 'cyber incident'

ER computers were down for two hours.

NEW ORLEANS — Touro Infirmary officials are calling it a "cyber incident."

Sunday, a week ago, something took down the computerized medical records system in the Uptown hospital's emergency room.

The attack comes as a growing number of businesses, particularly healthcare providers across the country, have fallen victim to cyber attacks.

"People are probing to get into your network to plant a seed in there, a virus in there that will in turn go and lock all of your files and make them usable until you pay a ransom to have them unlocked," New Orleans cyber security expert George Schiaffino said.  

Touro declined to say if this was a ransomware attack, but a spokeswoman said the hospital managed to contain the problem in less than two hours.

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"Cyber-incidences targeting healthcare providers and hospitals has become an industry-wide concern for which we have security and protocols in place," Jessica Muntz, Touro Director of Marketing and Communications said. "Our IT team was able to immediately implement practices and procedures to contain and mitigate the incident and the matter was quickly resolved without impacting patient safety and care." 

The ER staff was able to function using paper records until the computer problem was resolved.

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Schiaffino says Touro was likely able to recover the data quickly using a secure back-up system.

"The only way to recover from a ransomware attack is to recover your data from a back up," Schiaffino said. "We recommend having both an on site and an off site backup. Your off site back up is probably what's going to save you."

According to the hospital, no money was requested or exchanged. Touro also claims at no point was patient or employee information, including medical records, compromised.  

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