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Cybersecurity COO charged in hospital cyberattack

by Gus Iversen, Editor in Chief | June 16, 2021
Cyber Security
Northside Hospital Gwinnett, formerly Gwinnett Medical Center
A Georgia man who worked as chief operations officer for a network security company was arraigned last Thursday on charges arising from a cyberattack on Gwinnett Medical Center (GMC) in 2018. According to the indictment, the man's company was employed by the hospital to provide cybersecurity protection.

The indictment alleges that Vikas Singla conducted the attack — disrupting phone service, obtaining information from a digitizing device, and disrupting network printer service — for personal gain.

Singla is charged with 17 counts of intentional damage to a protected computer, each of which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment, and one count of obtaining information by computer from a protected computer, which carries a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment. According to court documents, the protected computer was a Hologic R2 Digitizer.

Social media accounts on Twitter and LinkedIn indicate that the company Singla worked for was Securolytics, a network security company providing services for the healthcare industry, however, HealthCare Business News has not been able to independently verify that.

In October 2018, SCO Online reported that on September 29th, IT staff at GMC became aware of an incident involving at least several hundred patient records. Immediately following the discovery, the alleged attackers sent threats.

The following Tuesday morning, according to the same CSO Online report, alleged GMC patient data started to appear online. The posted patient details included full name, date of birth, the alleged patient's sex, and claims the healthcare provider was attempting to cover up the incident.

“This cyberattack on a hospital not only could have had disastrous consequences, but patients' personal information was also compromised,” said special agent in charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office, in a statement. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners are determined to hold accountable those who allegedly put people’s health and safety at risk while driven by greed.”

Gwinnett Medical Center merged with Northside Hospital in 2019. The medical center in Lawrenceville, Georgia is now the Northside Hospital Gwinnett.

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