Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center; a Hollywood hospital, had its electronic patient records hacked and held hostage chose to give in to ransomer demands and pay $17,000 in bitcoin to retrieve the ransomed records. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center staff noticed issues accessing its computer network on Feb. 5. The price to regain access to the hospital files was 40 bitcoins, equivalent to around $17,000. After computer hack, L.A. hospital decided to go ahead and pay the bitcoin ransom to get back their medical records.
Hospital CEO Allen Stefanek explained the decision to pay the ransom, releasing a statement that, “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key.”
What the hackers did was use a type of malicious software called ransomware to encrypt patient records making them inaccessible to hospital staff. Bitcoins are viewed as hard to trace, is becoming the preferred way for hackers collect a ransom.
“Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t tell anybody if they had fallen victim to ransomware and especially if they have paid the criminals,” Adam Kujawa, malware intelligence head for Malwarebytes, a San Jose-based company that recently released software designed to thwart such attacks, told the Associated Press. “But I know from the experiences I hear about from various industry professionals that it’s a pretty common practice to just hand over the cash.”
The takeaway here is that cryptocurrencies are still being used in nefarious activities such as making ransom payment demands by cyber criminals. This is due to the relative anonymity and ease of use behind the currency. Cyber criminal hack attacks are also becoming increasingly more common and no industry or organization have been able to completely thwart off security breaches from occurring.