FBI Investigates Virus After MedStar Hospital Chain Forced to Shut Down Computer System

FBI is "looking into the nature and scope of the matter" at MedStar.

ByABC News
March 28, 2016, 7:24 PM
A MedStar dispatcher answers a call, March 17, 2005.
A MedStar dispatcher answers a call, March 17, 2005.
Jeffrey Washington/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/AP Photo

— -- The FBI said it is investigating a computer virus that has forced a massive shutdown of a computer system of Medstar, a major hospital chain in the Baltimore-Washington area.

“The FBI is aware of the incident and is looking into the nature and scope of the matter,” the FBI Baltimore Field Office, which is the lead for the FBI on the investigation, said in a statement today.

MedStar Health’s IT system was affected by a virus early this morning that has prevented many users from logging into its system, according to MedStar.

MedStar, which operates the biggest chain of hospitals in the Baltimore-Washington area, temporarily shut down its network to prevent further spread of the virus, according to the company.

“We are working with our IT and Cyber-security partners to fully assess and address the situation,” MedStar said in a statement.

MedStar said that there is no evidence of compromised information and that all facilities remained open, despite the shutdown.

“The organization has moved to back-up systems, paper transactions where necessary,” the company said.

There was no access to electronic medical records, scheduling computers, Internet or email all day today at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, according to a doctor for MedStar.

The hospital has been using paper record back-ups, but was very much in crisis mode, the doctor said, also noting that hospital workers were communicating through a pager system and via courier.

There have been 49 breaches unsecured protected health information affecting 500 or more people so far in 2016, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which tracks the information. Eleven of those breaches were related to hacking incidents, the agency said.

The investigation into the MedStar virus is ongoing, according to the FBI.

ABC News' Lauren Pearle and Brian Hartman contributed to this report.