Society for Case Research Spring Conference MBAA

Experience level: 
Intended Audience: 
Liam Wenk (Student), Tracy Couto

The Rippling Impact of a Ransomware Attack

At times, it is easy to view data as simply numbers and figures– and unless directly impacted, to view cyberattacks on critical information systems as a bump in the road. In reality, data is far more than numbers and figures, as it would not exist without human impact. In a healthcare organization, data collected and utilized is intertwined with the lives of human beings. When that information is impacted in any way, human lives could be at stake. In July 2019, a Ransomware attack on the Springhill Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama, resulted in Springhill having to shut down their network for nearly eight days due to the attack. The network outage resulted in critical medical equipment not functioning, such as health monitoring devices. Despite this, Springhill Medical Center continued to accept new patients into the hospital and operated under emergency procedures. At this time, a baby was born in the maternity ward with their umbilical cord wrapped around their neck– a medical emergency that could not be detected due to malfunctioning medical equipment. This oversight led to the young patient suffering from fatal injuries. Eight months later, the child died from their injuries, prompting a negligent homicide investigation and a wrongful death lawsuit against Springhill Medical Center.