Change Healthcare hit by major cyberattack — US health tech giant sees website taken offline, login pages unavailable

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Change Healthcare has suffered a cyberattack which knocked some of its services offline and sent ripples throughout the healthcare industry.

The company posted a short announcement on its status update website, saying a problem has been identified. “Some applications are currently unavailable,” the company said. “Optum is currently triaging the issue and will provide further updates as they are available.”

Change Healthcare merged with Optum two years ago, in a $7.8 billion deal. 

No data theft (yet)

This was followed by another update confirming that an unauthorized third party caused the issues.

“Change Healthcare is experiencing a network interruption related to a cyber security issue and our experts are working to address the matter,” the status update reads. “Once we became aware of the outside threat, in the interest of protecting our partners and patients, we took immediate action to disconnect our systems to prevent further impact.” 

Change expects the problem to last “at least throughout the day,” and at press time, most of the login pages were still offline and unavailable. 

While there is no confirmation, incidents such as this one, in which parts of the network are unavailable or had to be forced offline, are usually the result of a ransomware attack. Until Change provides an update, or a hacking collective assumes responsibility, we will not know if that’s the case and if any data was stolen in the attack. 

In the meantime, the disruption is affecting more than just Change. Citing Michigan local papers, TechCrunch also reported that local pharmacies are experiencing outages as a result of the attack. Scheurer Health took to Facebook to announce its inability to process prescriptions through patient insurance due to the “nationwide outage from the largest prescription processor in North America.”

Change Healthcare claims to be handling 15 billion healthcare transactions annually, which would put it firmly as one of the largest health tech firms in the country. 

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Sead is a seasoned freelance journalist based in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He writes about IT (cloud, IoT, 5G, VPN) and cybersecurity (ransomware, data breaches, laws and regulations). In his career, spanning more than a decade, he’s written for numerous media outlets, including Al Jazeera Balkans. He’s also held several modules on content writing for Represent Communications.