A security officer enters the Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego emergency entrance. Photo by Chris Stone

Scripps Health informed its patients that a cyber attack which took down its computer systems three weeks ago was due to “ransomware.”

Chris Van Gorder, president and CEO, said in an email to patients on Monday that the health care group withheld details of the attack to prevent hackers from further exploiting the situation and potentially sending scam email to patients.

“We are continuing to investigate the incident, which I can confirm involved ransomware,” said Van Gorder. “We reported this to federal law enforcement, and continue to support their investigation as well.”

He said Scripps is making progress restoring computer systems and has added operators to answer patients’ questions.

“When you come in for care, your medical history is again at our fingertips electronically,” he said. “In addition, we anticipate our electronic health record will be back online the latter part of this week, including your ability to log into your MyScripps account to see your health care information.”

Ransomware attacks are becoming more common. Earlier this month, a ransomware attack by Russian hackers shut down the key pipeline providing oil supplies to the East Coast. Colonial Pipeline ultimately paid the hackers $4.4 million.

Van Gorder did not say whether Scripps has paid a ransom in its case.

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Chris Jennewein

Chris Jennewein is Editor & Publisher of Times of San Diego.