A group of hackers took over a LA hospital’s computer network, and now they demand 9,000 bitcoins as ransom. Reportedly, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in LA was infected with a special type of malware called ransomware that blocks the network’s rightful owners’ access to data, until a ransom is paid.
The hospital IT experts are working hard to recover data from the cyberattack. The hospital has teamed up with LAPD and federal investigators to find the individuals behind the attack.
Nevertheless, as of now the computer network is still down, and health professionals try to find alternative ways to recover important e-mail and patient records.
Allen Stefanek, the head of the hospital, recently told reporters that the facility was in a state of emergency. Stefanek added that the ER system was the least impacted by the attack.
According to another report, some patients are already being taken to other hospitals as doctors no longer have access to computers they need to process CT scans, patient data, lab results, and medication needs at the hospital.
A spokesperson for HPMC said that the network has been inoperable for a week. So, staffers currently use fax machines and mobile phones to carry out their daily tasks. Patient data and registrations are recorded on paper. All doctors were required not to attempt to access their computers unless they are told to do so.
The hospital said that the attack looks like a ‘random’ ransomware infection. People familiar with the matter declined to provide more details on the type of ransomware. According to a local source, the program asks for 9,000 bitcoins, which are the equivalent of 3.6 million dollars, to be transferred in an account to unlock the system.
The HPMC is the fourth hospital plagued by a ransomware infection since the start of the year. And there may be more. Fortunately, the attacks did not result in any injuries or deaths among patients, but those who relied on MRI machines and pacemakers had to be transferred to other medical facilities.
Cybersecurity experts have warned against the weak protections hospital computer networks have for years. Among the reasons of concerns were sloppy computer passwords and reckless human behavior that may compromise the entire networks’ security.
Other experts cautioned about robots that dispense drugs. A hacker could take over the system and instruct the robots to administer the wrong drugs or doses. As a result, thousands of patients could suffer irreparable damage or even die.
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