Los Angeles Hospital Pays $17,000 Ransom to Hackers; FBI Investigating
Hackers seized control of critical computer systems and the hospital paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to release them.
LOS ANGELES – A large hospital here paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin after a hacker seized control of critical computer systems and would give back access only when the money was paid, the Los Angeles Times reports.
The assault on Hollywood Presbyterian occurred Feb. 5, when hackers using malware infected the institution’s computers, preventing hospital staff from being able to communicate from those devices, according to the hospital’s chief executive, Allen Stefanek.
In a statement released Wednesday, Stefanek, described the two-week battle that his hospital fought to regain control of its data after a malware attack was detected. The hacker demanded 40 bitcoin, the equivalent of about $17,000, he said.
The attack did not disrupt medical care or compromise the personal information of employees or patients, he said. Instead, it blocked hospital employees from using email and other forms of electronic communication by using encryption to lock them out of the system.
An FBI spokeswoman told the newspaper the bureau has taken over the hacking investigation but declined to discuss specifics of the case. Law enforcement sources told The Times that the hospital paid the ransom before reaching out to law enforcement for assistance.
Ransomware attacks are on the rise, industry researchers say, because they work. A research team at Dell gathered data from one ransom-payment server and found that it collected $1.1 million in a six-month period. McAfee Labs, Intel’s security research unit, detected 638,000 new ransomware variants in 2014. Last year, that number shot up to nearly 3.8 million.
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