(CNN) – The Maryland Department of Health has not released coronavirus case rate data for nine days as it is recovering from a “network security incident,” the department said Tuesday.
The department is focused on “gaining full insight into the affected network infrastructure” and working on bringing affected IT systems back online after the hack, said department spokesman Andy Owen in an email to CNN.
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In the meantime, data on vaccinations and hospital admissions, including those related to the virus, would be released, Owen said. “Our remaining data reports will be updated as soon as possible.”
Owen declined to answer questions about the cause of the hacking incident or when the department expects to be fully online again.
Health ministry websites went off for the first time following the security incident earlier this month, Owen said in an earlier statement. A number of state agencies are working with federal and state law enforcement agencies “to resolve the incident and gather additional information,” he said.
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A spokesman for Maryland Governor Larry Hogan did not respond to a request for comment.
The cyber attack is just the latest example of a hacking incident that hampered a health organization during the pandemic. The Los Angeles chapter of Planned Parenthood suffered a ransomware attack in October that compromised the personal information of approximately 400,000 patients.
Despite the enormous toll the coronavirus pandemic has taken on hospitals and clinics, many cybercriminals have not held back from taking the computer systems of such facilities hostage. According to Allan Liska, senior intelligence analyst at cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, there were more than 100 publicly reported ransomware attacks on healthcare providers in 2020, more than twice as many as in 2019.
This included a wave of computer network hacks in US hospitals in the fall of 2020. An incident forced University of Vermont Health Network hospitals to postpone chemotherapy and mammography appointments.
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