$17,000 bitcoin ransom paid by hospital to hackers sparks outrage.
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center was hit by ransomware and had to pay off the hackers. The Los Angeles hospital had lost access to its computer systems in early February after hackers managed to encrypt their computer files and demanded that the hospital paid the hackers $17,000 worth of Bitcoins. Since there was no other solution to the problem, the hospital announced that it had relented.
President and chief executive of the hospital explained that the quickest and most efficient way to restore the computer systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom to the hackers. This is what the hospital had to do in the best interest of restoring normal operations.
This incident became one of the most high-profile examples of a victim paying the fee for ransomware – a modern profitable practice of eastern European hackers. In the meantime, federal investigators usually discourage victims from paying the ransom, believing that it only encourages hackers. However, that message can be a tough sell, because the hackers in these cases often customize the amounts of money demanded for each victim to make them affordable enough. It is known that at least two small Massachusetts police departments also had to pay off ransomware hackers after losing access to their computer networks.
Why are such hacks so painful for victims? Because they often lose all access to their computer networks: for example, in this case, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center had to turn to fax machines and record patient notes with pen and paper.
It is also known that the Federal Bureau of Investigation was looking into the hack, but it’s unclear what role it played in the decision to pay off the intruders
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