Vermont hospital sufferers stay "at midnight" after cyberattack

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Others reported ransom demands "in the eight digits that regional health systems simply can't," said Allan Liska, an analyst at Recorded Future, a cybersecurity firm. These unusual requests, combined with coordinating the attacks, "create the appearance that the attack is disruptive" rather than for profit, he said.

Mr Holden said many of the health systems have chosen to bargain with their extortionists, even if the ransom jumps into the millions.

"Large numbers of victims are self-involved in these attacks," he said.

In Vermont, the damage radiated through an extensive network and hit the cancer center particularly hard.

“My really good friends are I.C.U. Nurses, and they're like no big deal, all we have to do is paper mapping, ”said Ms. Cargill, the nurse. However, the cancer center was set back for weeks and could only care for about one in four of its normal chemotherapy patients.

Ms. Cargill spent the rest of the day turning patients away, an experience almost a month later she cannot relate without crying.

"Looking someone in the eyes and telling them they can't get any life-extending or life-saving treatment was horrific and totally heartbreaking," she said. The very first person she turned away, a young woman, burst into tears.

"She said, 'I have to get chemo, I'm a mother of two young children," said Ms. Cargill. "She was so scared and the fear was palpable."