It’s a plotline that wouldn’t look out of place in an action film.
A hospital in Los Angeles was the victim of a random, ransomware cyberattack, which has locked the facility out of all of its patient records and information. The online anarchists responsible are holding Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s servers for a $3.6 million random – in BitCoins, if the story isn’t already unbelievable enough.
With zero access to the hospital’s computer systems, doctors and nurses have gone back to the early 90’s, communicating via fax or in-person. The staff is working with the FBI and the LAPD to identify the cyber intruders.
The only good news in all of this is the hackers don’t necessarily have access to the sensitive patient files. Considering the king’s ransom that seems to be the motivator, the goal for the attack was more to deny access to servers holding the information rather than stealing it; also known as ‘ransomware’.
Alan Stefanek, the CEO and president of Hollywood Presbyterian, reiterated that the attack appears to be random. The virus was likely the cause of an infected email link or pop-up ad that staff unknowingly opened, introducing the malware to the hospital’s network.
The hospital has been operating without patient records or their servers for a week now, but they’ll need to decide whether to bend on the Bitcoin demands soon. It wouldn’t be the first time: small police departments in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and New Hampshire agreed to pay between $500 and $750 to get their data back when their information was held for ransom(ware).
The data lost by the hospital is just as valuable and sensitive as the law-enforcement’s, though the seven-digit asking price dwarfs the $100’s in the other cases. So unless the hospital can get their own counter-hacking initiative going – cough, Anonymous – they may have to start their records from scratch.