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story.lead_photo.caption Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/MITCHELL PE MASILUN --6/15/2017-- Workers install an Arkansas Children's logo on the side of a building on the hospital complex in Little Rock Thursday, June 15, 2017.

Arkansas Children's Hospital has pulled down and rebooted its information-technology systems after a cybersecurity threat, a hospital spokeswoman confirmed Thursday.

The Little Rock hospital has contacted the FBI and engaged an external digital forensics firm to deal with the threat, spokeswoman Hilary DeMillo said in a text message.

The threat affects Arkansas Children's as a system, including Arkansas Children's Northwest in Springdale, DeMillo said.

The Little Rock campus has 336 beds, three intensive-care units and a staff of more than 5,000 people.

All patient-care services remain available, and there is no evidence that any patient information has been affected, according to the hospital. Some appointments and procedures may be delayed until the threat is fully resolved.

"Our team has protocols and practices in place to keep our patients safe during these scenarios," DeMillo said.

There was not yet a timeline for a fix as of Thursday afternoon, but hospital officials hope to have more information available soon, according to the statement.

An FBI spokesman in Little Rock, Connor Hagan, said Thursday that he could not confirm or deny whether the bureau was investigating the threat, but he said any business or company dealing with a threat should contact the agency.

Cyberattacks have affected city governments across the country in recent years, including at least 114 Arkansas municipalities, the Arkansas Municipal League told the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette last month.

Criminals in most of the cases nationwide use ransomware in which a government or company employee clicks on a seemingly innocuous link. Once clicked, the link exposes the user's computer and its network to a malware virus.

According to an online database from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights, 306 data breaches caused by hacking or another information-technology incident are under investigation at health care providers across the country.

Community Physicians Group, which has six clinics in Northwest Arkansas, experienced a hacking or information-technology incident in June, and Conway Regional Health System experienced a data breach the next month.

The federal government also is investigating breaches at health care providers in Birmingham, Ala.; St. Louis and Austin, Texas.

Information for this article was contributed by Alex Golden of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.

Metro on 03/06/2020

Print Headline: Children's Hospital discloses cyberthreat, reboots tech systems

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