Hospital Systems Held For Ransom
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles is in a crisis situation. The facility’s entire computer system is being held for ransom.
Over a week ago, the hospital fell victim to a ransomware attack.
Ransomware is a type of malware. It restricts access to the infected computer until a specified amount of ransom money is paid. Files are often encrypted and cannot be used without buying the encryption key from the malware operators.
In the case of Hollywood Presbyterian, the amount being demanded is $3.6 million.
Currently, hospital employees are unable to gain access to patient data, emails, and important documents. Procedures such as CT scans can’t be performed.
Some patients are being transported to other medical facilities in the area for treatment.
The potential for disaster in a situation like this is elevated because there are lives at stake.
Though hospital officials did confirm the attack, they stated that no indication has been found that the patients’ medical records have been accessed.
Workers at the facility have been told not to turn on their computers until given the “all clear.”
The LAPD and FBI are investigating the incident. It is not, currently, known how the systems in the hospital were infected. It is possible that it could have been something as simple as an employee opening a malicious attachment or link in an email.
It has been suggested that the hackers chose the medical center under the belief that the important nature of the information would ensure that the ransom be paid faster.
At this time, however, the hospital has given no indication that it intends to give the ransom amount over.
Staff are said to be having a difficult time completing their assigned tasks. They have had to take a technological step backward by making use of extra pens, paper, and old school fax machines to pass along information.
Ransomware is becoming increasingly popular with cybercriminals. The FBI estimates that the trojan program Cryptowall had already taken in $18 million by June of last year.
Companies like PC Matic and Norton offer some level of protection against these kinds of infections. Unfortunately, the most recent version of Cryptowall enhanced its code to avoid antivirus detection.
© 2016 Vianna Vaughan
source: Fox News