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FBI Investigating Computer Virus Causing Outages at Major Washington, D.C. Hospital

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Photo: Sebastian Widmann/dapd

WASHINGTON (TheBlaze/AP) -- The FBI says it's investigating a computer virus that has crippled information systems at the major Washington-area hospital chain MedStar Health Inc.

The virus has affected Washington's Georgetown University Hospital and other medical offices in the region.

Medstar says in a statement that the virus prevented some employees from logging into systems. But it said all of its clinics remain open and functioning.

A law enforcement official says the FBI is assessing whether the virus is so-called ransomware, in which hackers extort money in exchange for returning a victim's systems to normal. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because this person was not authorized to publicly discuss details about the ongoing criminal investigation.

The hospital chain said it has no evidence so far that patient information had been stolen.

“MedStar acted quickly with a decision to take down all system interfaces to prevent the virus from spreading throughout the organization,” spokeswoman Ann Nickels told the Washington Post. “We are working with our IT and cyber-security partners to fully assess and address the situation."

The $5 billion Medstar system operates ten hospitals and more than 250 outpatient facilities in the Washington, D.C., southern Maryland and Northern Virginia region. The system serves hundreds of thousands of patients and employs more than 30,000 people.

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