Halifax-based continuing care organization hit by "sophisticated" computer virus

HALIFAX — A Halifax-based continuing care organization says police are investigating after its computer system was hit by a virus.

Northwood says its network was affected by a "sophisticated virus" last Saturday.

President and CEO Janet Simm says the virus was first detected during the overnight hours on Dec. 21 and affected systems were disconnected before the bug could spread.

Simm says there is no evidence at this point that personal information or private health information has been accessed, and officials expect to learn more over the next few days as cybersecurity experts assess the system.

While many of its computer systems are shut off, Simm says Northwood staff are working manually on processes such as payroll and home care scheduling, which is proving to be a challenge.

She says as a result, home care clients are being prioritized to ensure there are minimal disruptions to care.

"At this point in time there's no evidence of an actual breach," Simm said in an interview Friday. "We will know once the cybersecurity experts go in and evaluate our firewalls."

She said in the meantime, Northwood is working with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the Department of Health to make sure its clients are served.

"We are doing our best to maintain service levels," said Simm.

Overall, Northwood serves 6,500 clients with 1,800 clients receiving home care services across Halifax, West Hants and the province's Eastern Shore.

Northwood said Friday that all of its facilities and programs are continuing to operate.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 27, 2019.

The Canadian Press