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This Is the First Death From a Ransomware Attack

Woman dies in Germany after hospital is hit with cyberattack
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 18, 2020 1:00 AM CDT

(Newser) – In a tragic first for humanity, a death in Germany was the indirect result of a ransomware attack. A Duesseldorf hospital was the victim of the attack, and as a result of the attack, it was unable to receive a woman who was on her way there. She was re-routed to a hospital more than 18 miles away, and ended up dying. It's not clear what her medical needs were, only that they were urgent, ZDNet reports. German authorities are investigating on suspicion of negligent homicide; if the attack and subsequent hospital downtime are discovered to have been directly at fault, German police will pursue the incident as a murder case.

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As for the attack itself, it appears to have been accidental in one aspect: The local university seems to have been the intended target. The unknown perpetrators ended the attack after authorities alerted them that the hospital had been affected rather than the school, the AP reports. The Verge notes that experts have warned for years that many hospitals aren't prepared for cyberattacks. Tweeted one such expert regarding the German case, "Looks like the fears of healthcare cybersecurity professionals have come true." (Read more ransomware stories.)

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