Cyber-attack targets New Delhi hospital

The leading hospital in India’s capital has resumed normal operations after a cyber-attack severely affected its systems for nearly two weeks.

Online registration of patients resumed last week after the hospital was able to access its server and recover lost data. 

The hospital had been working with federal authorities to restore the system and strengthen its defences.

At this stage it remains unclear who conducted the 23 November attack on the All India Institute of Medical Sciences or where it originated. 

The attack was followed by a series of failed attempts to hack India’s top medical research organisation, the Indian Council of Medical Research. This has raised further concerns about the vulnerability of India’s health system to attacks at a time when the government is pushing hospitals to digitise their records.

More than 173,000 hospitals have registered with a federal programme to digitise health records since its launch in September 2021. 

The programme assigns patients numbers that are linked to medical information stored by hospitals on their own servers or in cloud-based storage. Experts fear that hospitals may not have the expertise to ensure digital security.

On 30 November, there were repeated but ultimately unsuccessful attempts to breach the website of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The attack on the hospital raised “serious questions about the cybersecurity of the country,” said KC Venugopal, a member of Parliament from the main opposition Congress party.

India drafted a proposed law governing data privacy last month, but critics say it offers few safeguards to people. It has not yet been passed by Parliament.