St. Joseph's/Candler Health System in Savannah is still recovering from a cyberattack June 17.

statue, fountain, and sign outside St. Joseph's Hospital in Savannah

St. Joseph's Hospital in Savannah is part of the St. Joseph's/Candler Health System, which recently experienced a cyberattack.

Credit: St. Joseph's/Candler Health System

As one of Savannah’s main hospital systems continues to recover from a cyberattack, experts say it’s essential for health care facilities to secure their networks.

The cyberattack hit St. Joseph’s/Candler Health System on June 17, forcing it to switch to backup systems such as paper records to keep caring for patients. In a Tuesday statement, spokesperson Scott Larson said the system and staff continue "to make progress on our restoration efforts and has activated certain clinical systems." Patient care has continued, he said, as workers "continue to work methodically to restore remaining systems as quickly and as safely as possible."

Michael Nowatkowski of Augusta University’s School of Computer and Cyber Sciences said any big, interconnected computer system, whether a hospital or pipeline, can be vulnerable. But hospitals have added worries.

“Since they are in the process of trying to save lives, sometimes when they fall victim, it’s a bit more time sensitive to fix the problem,” he said.

Nowatkowski said one strategy for hospitals is separating their systems, so computers handling patient care don’t connect to email or websites that can let attackers in.

Training is also key, he said, because a whole system can be compromised by just one person clicking on a phishing email.