February 18, 2016 by

LA Hospital Gives in to Pay $17,000 in Ransomware

The president of the recently targeted Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has revealed that his hospital has paid a ransom of $17,000 to regain control of their computer systems following a cyber attack that lasted a week.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has paid a ransom of 40 bitcoins – approximately worth $16,664 dollars – to reclaim access to affected computer systems following a cyber attack that began on Feb 5.

In a statement revealed by the Associated Press, CEO Allen Stefanek stated:

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.

The CEO sought to put concerns away by adding that patient care had not been compromised in any way. Furthermore, the hospital had fully restored access to its electronic medical record system this Monday, Stefanek added.

The CEO also revealed that the attack had encrypted files on the hospital’s computer network, locking out administrators, doctors and staff from files and folders. The key to unlock the files in order to regain access, also known as the decryption key, belonged to the hackers the entire time.

According to the FBI and several doctors, communications between physicians and medical staff was hampered in a huge way, primarily due to having to rely on paper records while the cliché` of doctors’ messy handwriting proved to be true.

Related article: Hackers Encrypt Hollywood Hospital’s Systems with Ransomware

While the cyberattack affected the hospital’s patient database, doctors were still able to relay the relevant and necessary medical records the old-fashioned way via phone lines and fax machines, according to a neonatal-perinatal specialist, Dr. Rangasamy Ramanathan, a physician at the hospital.

The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are currently involved in investigations to track and pinpoint the hacker or the hacker group behind the intrusion, a FBI spokeswoman confirmed on Wednesday.

Neither law enforcement nor the hospital have given any indication of suspects or who might have been behind the cyber attack. The FBI and the LAPD had both been notified of the malware infiltration as soon as it became apparent on Feb 5.

Image credit: Wikimedia.

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LIFARS is a digital forensics and cybersecurity intelligence firm based in New York City. LIFARS is ranked as one of the top Digital Forensics and Cyber Investigations companies in 2016 and as one of the top cybersecurity companies in the New York metropolitan area for 2015 on the Cybersecurity 500 – a directory of the hottest and most innovative companies to watch in the cybersecurity industry.

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