Cyber Thieves Hold Hospital's Data for Ransom
What do you do when hackers kidnap your data and hold it for ransom?Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in California recently faced that question. The hospital’s management decided it was worth forking over $17,000 in bitcoin cyber currency to regain access to their patient digital information and other data held hostage by a malicious software program.
Ransomware, as it has come be known, has been around for years, but this hospital case is perhaps the most egregious example of its use as part of a cyber attack.
The medical center issued a statement saying that patient care was not compromised while their data was unavailable. Still, it’s unsettling to hear that a hospital is shut out of parts of its own computer systems and unable to communicate electronically.
Ransomware does its dirty work by encrypting files until a ransom payment releases the decryption key. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this case is that the hackers asked for only $17,000—not that much money to an institution that that pulls in hundreds of millions in annual revenue. But it’s almost certain that future instances of ransomware attacks will involve more exorbitant demands.