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Region 3 Behavioral Health tightens security efforts after cyber attack
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Region 3 Behavioral Health tightens security efforts after cyber attack

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Region 3 Behavioral Health Services in Kearney was the victim of a cyberattack on Easter morning in April.

The agency was hit with ransomware that demanded payment of $5,000, Administrator Beth Baxter told The Independent.

“We were able to put our information technology department to work on it right away,” Baxter said. “They identified it soon after it happened. The appropriate kind of measures were in place to detect that kind of intrusion.”

The ransom was paid through the agency’s cyber insurance.

“We had a deductible we paid, and the insurance company assisted us through the process,” Baxter said. “They provided a consultation team, individuals who encounter this kind of issue probably on a daily basis and are much better equipped to deal with this type of intrusion than a small company like ours.”

Nothing like this had happened before at Region 3, though the agency was prepared for it.

Region 3 Behavioral Health Services

After a ransomware attack in April, Region 3 Behavioral Health Services in Kearney improved its already strong cyber security precautions to help prevent further attacks, Administrator Beth Baxter said. 

“We had processes in place and a plan if something like this would happen,” Baxter said. “We were fairly well-equipped to deal with it. It was just broader than a small organization has the resources on its own to address.”

The agency has grown stronger from the experience.

“It’s helped us revise our processes so that we’re much better equipped to deal with any kind of thing like this should it happen in the future,” Baxter said.

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Among the changes made in the wake of the attack, Region 3 moved its emails from an exchange server to a secure cloud-based system.

Four additional firewalls were added to help prevent further intrusions.

Region 3 worked with Intellicom, a Kearney-based IT provider, to install those systems.

“Our consultation team was able to help identify what types of firewalls would be best suited for us,” she said. “Even though we had all of that, we obviously needed to beef it up.”

Region 3 serves Kearney, Grand Island and Hastings, as well as many rural communities.

The agency provides services that help “foster recovery and resiliency for individuals and their families who experience a behavioral health challenge,” according to its website.

Such health care organizations are at a higher risk for cyberattacks.

“We’re not in the realm of a hospital, but I think when they’re just phishing and randomly selecting organizations they tend to look for health care and infrastructure related places, we know that,” she said.

Baxter urges other agencies and organizations to invest in precautions against such attacks.

“It’s time consuming,” she said, “but, although we were prepared and our preparations before this happened, I’m confident, helped us a great deal, actually going through the experience, we just used that for how we improve our own security and operations here at Region 3.”

For more information about Region 3 services, visit http://region3.net/.

brandon.summers@theindependent.com

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