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(Reuters) — German prosecutors opened a homicide investigation on Friday into the case of a patient who died after a hospital in the western city of Duesseldorf was unable to admit her because its systems had been knocked out by a cyberattack.
The female patient, suffering from a life-threatening illness, had to be turned away on the night of Sept. 11 by the city’s University Clinic and died after the ambulance carrying her was diverted to Wuppertal, 20 miles away.
Prosecutor Christoph Hebbecker, head of the cybercrime unit in Cologne, said he had opened an investigation into negligent homicide against unknown persons, the Kolner-Stadtanzeiger daily reported. Hebbecker could not be reached for comment.
If the investigation leads to a prosecution, it would be the first confirmed case in which a person has died as the direct consequence of a cyberattack.
The University Clinic in Duesseldorf, capital of Germany’s most populous state of North Rhine-Westphalia, was hit by a ransomware attack on Sept. 10 that penetrated its systems via a flaw in a Citrix VPN system.
The hospital’s IT operations remain affected and it is still unable to admit patients brought in by ambulance, it said on Friday.
Germany’s cybersecurity agency, the Federal Office for Information Security, was called in to shore up the hospital’s systems. Its chief, Arne Schoenbohm, said the Citrix flaw had been known about since Dec. 2019 and called on health care facilities not to delay IT security upgrades.
“I can only urge you not to ignore or postpone such warnings but to take appropriate action immediately,” Mr. Schoenbohm said in a statement. “This incident shows once again how seriously this danger must be taken.”
Ciaran Martin, who stepped down as the head of Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre this month, said the incident could be prove to be first death caused by a cyberattack.
“If confirmed, this tragedy would be the first case I know of, anywhere in the world, where the death of a human life can be linked in any way to a cyberattack,” he told an event in London.
(Reuters) — Twitter confirmed on Thursday that an account of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi's personal website was hacked with a series of tweets asking its followers to donate to a relief fund through cryptocurrency.