Change Healthcare Suffers Outage Following Cyberattack

March 12, 2024 |

On Feb. 21, 2024, Change Healthcare disclosed it had been impacted by a cyberattack, resulting in an outage that has potentially impacted millions of Americans. This incident serves as a reminder of the critical consequences cyberattacks can have on healthcare organizations. 

Change Healthcare

Change Healthcare is one of the world’s largest medical data and patient record facilitators. Thousands of physicians, pharmacies, and hospitals across the U.S. rely on Change Healthcare to process health insurance benefits and bill patients. The health tech giant is owned by UnitedHealth Group, the largest health insurance company in the U.S. 

What happened? 

According to a spokesperson from UnitedHealth, Change Healthcare fell victim to a cyberattack perpetrated by a cybercrime threat actor who represented themselves as ALPHV/Blackcat, a Russian ransomware gang. In claims that have not yet been verified, the ransomware gang claimed responsibility for the attack. 

“Our experts are working to address the matter and we are working closely with law enforcement and leading third-party consultants, Mandiant and Palo Alto Network[s], on this attack against Change Healthcare’s systems. We are actively working to understand the impact to members, patients and customers,” the UnitedHealth spokesperson said.

What was the impact? 

According to TechCrunch, there has been a massive impact felt across the U.S. healthcare system, including: 

  • Hospitals unable to check insurance benefits, process billing, or authorize patient procedures;
  • Pharmacies unable to determine the cost of patient prescriptions, resulting in high out-of-pocket costs; and,
  • Small healthcare companies are at risk of crashing cash reserves without reimbursements from insurance companies. 

At this time, it is also unclear whether patient data was stolen during the cyberattack. If the security of patient data was compromised, millions of patients could be impacted. 

What’s next? 

UnitedHealth Group stated they are working on restoring systems and services and plan to restore access to their payments platform by March 15. They expect access to their medical claims network to be restored by March 18. 

“This is a massive organization that got hacked,” said Steve Ryan, head of healthcare services at BARR.

“It goes to show it’s a matter of if, not when, your organization may be impacted by a cyberattack. This is why organizations should be prepared for detection, containment, eradication, and recovery while working to limit damage to as minimal as possible,” Ryan concluded. 

Interested in speaking with an expert about how to protect your organization’s systems? Contact us today.

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