The Vermont National Guard's cyber security unit will help the University of Vermont Medical Center operate its systems after a hospital hack last week.
Ten members of the National Guard were called in to help Wednesday. The team, called the Combined Cyber Response Team, will work with the medical center to scan and remove malware from all laptops, medical equipment and other devices connected to the network.
This is the first time the unit has been called on a mission to Vermont, said Mike Arcovitch, a National Guard spokesman.
Since the UVM medical center was breached last Wednesday, many appointments have delayed or canceled. The electronic medical record system and the patient portal, which includes medical history and prescription information, have been left out operation. Some cancer treatments have been rescheduled.
As of Wednesday, all outpatient laboratories were closed and scheduling systems for UVM Medical Center and Vermont Medical Center were down.
The other five hospitals in Vermont and New York belonging to the UVM Health Network were also affected at various levels. Hospitals nationwide have fallen victim to ransomware attacks by a Russian team, with hacks having increased in recent days. UVM Medical Center President Stephen Leffler said Monday he did not know the source of the attack and had not received a request for ransom.
The FBI declined to answer questions about the investigation.
IT staff work to ensure that systems are secure and free of malware or viruses. "There are thousands of end points, computers that need to be cleaned," said hospital spokeswoman Annie Mackin. "The National Guard can bring in extra human resources to get the job done faster," he continued.
Many of the team members have re-worked in IT jobs in the private sector, Arcovitch said. They also have military training to provide cyber support to "mission partners" such as hospitals. "Their potential is quite large in sector of security in cyberspaceSaid Arcovitch.
They will help at least until Sunday, with the possibility of an extension, Arcovitch said.
Phil Scott praised the work of the UVM Health Network and its efforts to "respond quickly to this attack in cyberspace, prioritizing safety of patients and restoring the systems in a safe way, "he said in a statement.
The National Guard team "will further strengthen this important project," Scott said.