Calling for Enhanced Cybersecurity in the Health Care Sector, Sinema Highlights Attacks Against Arizona Hospitals and the 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline at Homeland Security Committee Hearing

Mar 22, 2023

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Sinema pressed for increased preparedness to protect Arizonans’ access to care and emergency services

WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema spoke at a recent Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing about the impact of cyberattacks on Arizona patients and health care providers, and called for urgent action to improve the cybersecurity preparedness of our nation’s health care and mental health support systems. 
“When a hospital is hacked, it’s not just Arizonans’ sensitive data placed at risk. Particularly in rural communities where hospital access may be limited, crippling cyberattacks can literally be matters of life or death,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee.

Sinema highlighted multiple incidents where cyberattacks threatened the health, safety, and wellbeing of everyday Arizonans. In December of last year, a cyberattack caused a nearly daylong outage of the nation’s new 988 Suicide Prevention Hotline. Following the cyberattack, callers seeking emergency assistance were unable to reach an operator to receive mental health support. Sinema stressed the importance of ensuring that our country’s suicide prevention system is better prepared for any future cyberattack.
Last year, Yuma Regional Medical Center notified 700,000 patients that their personal and health data was stolen in a ransomware attack. At the hearing, Sinema also highlighted Wickenburg Community Hospital’s recovery effort following a ransomware attack, and asked witnesses about strengthening the resiliency of community, rural, and tribal hospitals against cyberattacks. In smaller communities, a successful cyberattack against a hospital can leave an entire area without access to emergency medical services.
Sinema also discussed the need to prepare for emerging cybersecurity threats in the health care sector.  As more Arizonans use wireless medical devices, such as pacemakers and insulin pumps, Sinema called for these devices to meet rigorous cybersecurity standards.