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Cyber attack on Buffalo hospital has Rochester facilities on high alert

Even two weeks after the virus was detected, the Erie County Medical Center is still using pen and paper for each patient's reports.

A Buffalo area hospital was targeted by a cyber attack and now has other hospitals on alert.

Even two weeks after the virus was detected, the Erie County Medical Center, or ECMC, is still using pen and paper for each patient's reports.

Thursday, they're still dealing with the aftermath while hospitals in Rochester, and around the state, are on alert for similar attacks.

Staff at ECMC are filling out medical reports with pen and paper. It serves as a reminder that all hospitals are high-value targets for criminal attacks.

“It's been a challenge,” said Peter Cutler, Vice President of Communications & External Affairs at ECMC. “This is something that no one wants. You hope it never happens to you.”

RIT professor Josephine Wolff researches cyber-attacks and says ECMC did the right thing by shutting down their systems as soon as the virus was detected. Sensitive patient information is on the line.

“You've stopped operations because you can't access your data, and that's, once again, much more critical at a hospital. It gets into your laptop, gets into your phone. It encrypts all the data on that device then it holds it hostage," said Wolff.

“We knew it before and even more now, and more painfully since, that these types of instances are occurring across the country in health care organizations around the world,” Cutler added.

Because for hospitals, every minute counts.

“In hospitals, this feels like it really is a matter of life and death. Whether or not we can get to our computer records, control our machines,” Wolff continued.

“We had to prioritize our most critical cases and what was most important,” Cutler explained.

And experts say once a system is hacked, it's a long road to recovery.

“We're all really in this together, and if one institution is affected, we could all be affected,” Cutler stated.

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