The attack at AIIMS halted surgeries as patients could not register to attend, doctors could not access medical records.
A leading hospital in the Indian capital was back on track on Wednesday after a cyberattack paralyzed its operations for nearly two weeks.
Online patient registration resumed on Tuesday after the hospital was able to access its server and restore lost data. The hospital worked with local authorities to restore the system and strengthen its security.
It is not known who carried out the November 23 attack at the All India Institute of Medical Science or where it came from. Medical authorities did not respond to their request.
The attack was followed by several failed attempts to break into India’s medical research body, the Indian Council of Medical Research. This has led some to worry about the breakdown of India’s healthcare system to come under attack at a time when the government is pushing hospitals to go digital.
More than 173,000 hospitals have registered with the federal program to count health records since it was launched in September 2021. The program provides patients with numbers that are associated with medical information stored by hospitals on their servers or cloud storage. Experts fear that hospitals may not have the technology to ensure digital security.
“Completing an entire hospital without protecting it can kill the entire hospital. It stops working suddenly,” said Srinivas Kodali, a researcher at the Free Software Movement of India.
This is what happened to a hospital in New Delhi. Medical staff were unable to access patient reports because servers that store laboratory data and patient records were hacked and destroyed.
The clinic often serves thousands of people a day, many of whom travel from far away for affordable treatment. Always crowded, the lines at the hospital were long and chaotic.
“The whole system is not working because of fraud,” said Deep Ranjan, who came to New Delhi from northeastern Assam. He said he spent five days waiting in line and did not see a doctor.
Sandeep Kumar, who accompanied his sick father, said the digital threat meant people could not be booked online, and that doctors could do little to see patients because they could not access their medical records.
“We’re going digital [everything]but then there is an attack on the most important hospital in the country,” he said.
On November 30, repeated but unsuccessful attempts were made to hack the website of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Press Trust of India reported.
The attack on the hospital raised “serious questions about cyber security in the country,” said KC Venugopal, a member of Parliament from the main opposition Congress party.
India drafted a new privacy law last month, but critics said it offered little protection to the public. This was not approved by Parliament.