Cybercrime: Investigations after IT failure at Düsseldorf University Hospital initiated

After the extensive breakdown of the IT system at the Düsseldorf University Hospital, with restrictions that lasted for days for many patients, the central and contact point for cybercrime in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia has initiated an investigation. “The clues that point to criminally relevant behavior are condensing,” said a spokesman for the central office, which is located at the Cologne public prosecutor, on Friday to the German press agency. In an exchange with those affected, it is checked, among other things, whether and, if so, which measures are necessary.

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The failure of the IT system resulted in severe restrictions at the Düsseldorf University Hospital on Friday for the second day in a row. “We are signed off from the emergency care,” said a spokesman for the dpa on Friday morning. This means that ambulances would still not drive to the university hospital, but would head for other hospitals. The emergency room itself is occupied. “Whoever comes is treated,” he explained. The telephone system could be connected to the network on Thursday, both external and internal calls are possible again. “We can be reached again,” emphasized the spokesman.

However, the e-mail traffic did not work at first. Planned and outpatient treatments will not take place until further notice and will be postponed, according to a warning on the clinic’s website from Thursday evening, which was also displayed on Friday afternoon. Patients are therefore asked not to visit the University Hospital Düsseldorf – not even if an appointment has been made, it said.

On Thursday at 3 a.m. in the Düsseldorf University Hospital, the computer and information system largely failed. According to the institution, more than 50,000 inpatients are cared for at the Düsseldorf University Hospital every year. In addition, around 300,000 outpatients are treated annually. Measured by the number of beds, it is ranked seventh among the largest hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia.

According to information from the association, the hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia have specifically checked their protection against cyber attacks in recent years. Since then, there have been few security incidents, said a spokesman for the NRW Hospital Society on Friday at the request of the dpa. The hospitals in North Rhine-Westphalia are very sensitized and work closely with the authorities at the state level through the hospital society. Workshops with the State Criminal Police Office and close exchange with the Ministry of Health would take place.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the Lukas Hospital in neighboring Neuss and the Jülich Research Center as well as several companies have been targets of hacker attacks in the past. Large hospitals are counted among the so-called critical infrastructure, which must be particularly protected. There are industry-specific safety standards for them, explained the NRW hospital society.


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