Cyberattack on parent company forces Fargo's Prairie St. John's to shutdown computer systems

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Prairie St. John’s, seen Friday, June 23, 2017, at 510 4th St. S., Fargo, as it celebrated it's 20th anniversary. Forum file photo

FARGO — Fargo's Prairie St. John's took all of its computer systems offline Sunday, Sept. 27, after its parent company, Universal Health Services, was hit with a cyberattack.

Jeff Herman, CEO of Prairie St. John's, said Monday that there has been no data breach associated with the attack, and so far, there had been no "adverse outcomes" for Prairie St. John's.

UHS, one of the largest healthcare providers in the United States, was hit with a ransomware attack early Sunday, according to online reports.

A ransomware attack involves hackers locking up an organization's computer networks and causing screens to display a message demanding a ransom to unlock them.


Herman said he is not aware of any computers at Prairie St. John's displaying a ransomware screen, adding the local hospital shut its computer networks down after receiving a call from UHS.

According to information on the UHS website, the company has 400 acute care hospitals, behavioral health facilities and ambulatory centers across the United States, Puerto Rico and the United Kingdom.

The ransomware that hit UHS was consistent with the Ryuk ransomware, which has been tied to a Russian cybercrime organization, according to an online report posted by TechCrunch, which describes itself as a technology media company.

Herman said he does not know when computers at Prairie St. John's will be useable again, adding they are operating under a contingency plan that has been used in the past when computers problems arose.

"We have a very robust backup plan for when we go offline for any reason, so we've not really had any adverse outcomes or any real issues with being offline," Herman said.

"The bigger issues are getting payrolls completed, that kind of thing. We just want to make sure the system is sound before we bring it back online," Herman said.

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