Hollywood Presbyterian Ransom: Hacked Hospital Paid In Bitcoin

February 20, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

California’s Hollywood Presbyterian paid a ransom to an unnamed hacking group or hacker to regain control of the hospital’s computer system. The president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center claimed that the attack occurred earlier this month, and the $17,000 ransom was paid in the shape of bitcoin.

Hollywood Presbyterian ransom

Like the plot of a Hollywood movie, the Hollywood Presbyterian was forced to pay a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to a hacker/or hackers, who locked the hospital out of their own system.

The incident took place on February 5, and the hackers asked for money, according to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s Chief Executive Allen Stefanek. He stated that their entire system was crippled, making it impossible for hospital staff to communicate with devices.

The cyber attack did not perturb the doctors, who found ingenious ways to access the hospital’s patient database, via old medical records, phone lines, and fax machines. The hacker demanded 40 bitcoin, the equivalent of about $17,000 to end the hostage situation. Stefanek said in a statement that after the money was paid, they regained control of the computers. Stefanek added:

“The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

Last week, top hospital officials alerted the Los Angeles Police Department about the hack. The FBI has taken over the hacking investigation, but thus far no one knows where the attack originated. Law enforcers claimed there will be more attacks similar to this one in the future. Phil Lieberman, a cyber security expert, added:

“I have never heard of this kind of attack trying to shut down a hospital. This puts lives at risk, and it is sickening to see such an act. Health management systems are beginning to tighten their security.”

Many are wondering, was it the right thing to do and pay the hackers?

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