IT security firm COO accused of cyberattack on Georgia medical center

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The chief operating officer of a computer security firm has been indicted for a financially motivated cyberattack on Gwinnett Medical Center in Lawrenceville, Georgia in September 2018.

Vikas Singla, 45, of Marietta, GA is the COO of Securolytics, a network security company in the Atlanta metro area. On June 8, 2021, Singla was indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly accessing the healthcare provider’s systems, disrupting its phone and network printing services, and stealing information from a Hologic R2 scanning device.

According to the Justice Department, the attack was carried out, in part, for financial gain and business advantage. According to court documents, at least 10 protected computers were damaged in the attack. It is unclear whether Singla, or his computer company, had ever had any business dealings with Gwinnett Medical Center and why the medical center was targeted.

Singla was arraigned in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on June 10, 2021 and charged with 17 counts of willfully damaging a protected computer and one count of obtaining information from a protected computer. Singla faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison for each of the counts of intentional damage to a protected computer and a maximum prison sentence of 5 years for information theft.

Singla does not appear to have acted alone. According to the indictment, Singla was aided and abetted by others, although they were not named. Singla pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on bail. The trial date has not yet been set.

“Criminal disruptions of hospital computer networks can have tragic consequences,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicholas L. McQuaid of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division. “The ministry is committed to holding accountable those who endanger the lives of patients by damaging computers critical to the operation of our healthcare system.

“This cyberattack on a hospital could not only have had disastrous consequences, but patients’ personal information was also compromised,” said Special Agent in Charge Chris Hacker of the FBI’s Atlanta Field Office. “The FBI and our law enforcement partners are committed to holding accountable those who allegedly endangered the health and safety of people while motivated by greed.”

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