OCEANSIDE, Calif. — Tri-City Medical Center in Oceanside fell victim to a cyber attack Thursday, a hospital spokesperson confirmed the news to FOX 5.

“I would say healthcare is at the top. They are the primary target today,” said Sai Huda, CEO at CyberCatch.

Huda weighed in on the damage these kinds of attacks can have on healthcare systems.

“The way they want to get money is to infiltrate an organization, steal the data, which is patient record information. They are also installing ransomware, which is malicious code that shuts down files systems and really prevents healthcare from being delivered,” Huda said.

Tri-City has not confirmed if the threat is ransomware, but said the attack forced it to declare “an internal disaster” and divert ambulances to other area hospitals.

A statement from Palomar Health Thursday said the hospital emergency department “is receiving a heavy influx of ambulatory inpatients diverted from Tri-City and are all are being admitted and treated with the same high-level of attention and care given to all patients admitted to Palomar Health.”

Huda says his number one piece of advice is for companies to routinely test their cyber security.

“Everyone should really do a cyber drill to see how well you could handle a ransomware attack. Would you be able to detect it, contain it, and be able to recover quickly?” Huda said.

Huda also shares the data stolen in these breaches, particularly from healthcare companies, holds a lot of value.

“Data is very valuable so the data can be sold on dark web for on average $1,000 per medical record. That’s a lot higher than even credit card information which goes for about $110 per record,” Huda said.

Tri-City called the situation fluid, thanking the community for their support and understanding, adding its priority is patient safety and protecting their private health information.

As far as how long we can expect this cyber attack or similar ones to last, Huda says anywhere from a few days to maybe even a month depending on the situation. 

Though ambulances are not arriving, but the hospital says it remains prepared to manage emergency cases that may arrive in private vehicles.

The hospital expects an update on this situation to go out sometime Friday.