Cyberattackers Target Oklahoma City Mental Illness Nonprofit


Thursday, June 10th 2021, 10:26 pm
By: Clayton Cummins


OKLAHOMA CITY -

A local nonprofit that helps the public overcome mental illness and trauma becomes a victim itself to a cyberattack.

NorthCare in Oklahoma City said its IT team noticed strange activity on its network on Sunday.

“There was this unauthorized activity on our network,” said Tonya Ratcliff, Marketing, Communications and Philanthropy Principal at NorthCare. “After we looked a bit deeper into that, we confirmed that this was a criminal attack in the form of ransomware.”

IT got right to work, with the help of third-party organizations, to lock the network down from the cyber invaders.

NorthCare said that effort saved the system.

“Some of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable populations are served within the walls of NorthCare and there is a lot of very delicate information there,” said Ratcliff. “Not to mention we are a nonprofit; we rely on not only state and federal but donor dollars.”

The attackers demanded a ransom NothCare only describes as ‘hefty.’ The nonprofit refused to pay the cyber attackers a dime.

“It’s a blessing that we did not lose any information however we do know that the attackers were able to get and have a certain amount of information proprietary to NorthCare,” said Ratcliff. “At this time, we don’t know exactly what that information is. We do not know if it is protected health care information or anything else.”

As the nonprofit slowly gets back on track, they can’t help but wonder why them?

“We are spending so much time trying to initiate response after response on this attack when at the end of the day, that time should be spent assisting Oklahoma consumers with mental health needs,” said Ratcliff.

Many appointments were canceled because of the attack. Now, the nonprofit is dealing with a backlog.

E-mail was down for several days, but just became operational Thursday. E-mail communication is critical for the nonprofit in grant writing.