L.A. hospital pays thousands to end 'ransomware' attack

LOS ANGELES -- A large Los Angeles hospital chose to pay hackers who were holding its computer network hostage, a move its CEO said was in its best interest and the most efficient way to end the problem.

See Full Article

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center showed uncommon transparency in saying Wednesday that it paid the 40 bitcoins - or about $17,000 - demanded when it fell victim to what's commonly called "ransomware."

The hacking tactic is growing fast against both individuals and institutions, but it's difficult to say exactly how fast, and even tougher to say how many pay up.

"Unfortunately, a lot of companies don't tell anybody if they had fallen victim to ransomware and especially if they have paid the criminals," said Adam Kujawa, Head of Malware Intelligence for Malwarebytes, a San Jose-based company that recently released anti-ransomware software. "I know from the experiences I hear about from various industry professionals that it's a pretty common practice to just hand over the cash."

Computer security experts normally recommend people not pay the ransom, though at times law enforcement agencies suggest they do, Kujawa said.

The FBI said it is investigating the ransomware attack, but have provided no details beyond that.

During 2013, the number of attacks each month rose from 100,000 in January to 600,000 in December, according to a 2014 report by Symantec, the maker of antivirus software.

A report from Intel Corp.'s McAfee Labs released in November said the number of ransomware attacks is expected to grow even more in 2016 because of increased sophistication in the software used to do it. The company estimates that on average, 3 percent of users with infected machines pay a ransom.

The infiltration at Hollywood Presbyterian was first noticed on Feb. 5, CEO Allen Stefanek said in a statement. Its system was fully functioning again by Monday, 10 days later.

The hospital did not say whether anyone in law enforcement or the technology business had recommended it pay off the hackers and quickly obtain the digital key used to be able to access its data again.

"The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key," Stefanek said. "In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."

Neither law enforcement nor the hospital gave any indication of who might have been behind the attack or whether there are any suspects.

Bitcoins, the online currency that is hard to trace, is becoming the preferred way for hackers collect a ransom, FBI Special Agent Thomas Grasso, who is part of the government's efforts to fight malicious software including ransomware, told The Associated Press last year.

Patient care at Hollywood Presbyterian was not affected by the hacking, and there is no evidence any patient data was compromised, Stefanek said.

The 434-bed hospital in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles was founded in 1924. It was sold to CHA Medical Center of South Korea in 2004. It offers a range of services including emergency care, maternity services, cancer care, physical therapy, and specialized operations such as fetal and orthopedic surgeries.



Advertisements

Latest Tech & Science News

  • China's rare milu deer return in victory for conservation

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- The newborn fawn walks unsteadily among the trees that were once part of the Chinese emperor's hunting grounds, where more than a century before its forebears died out in their native China. This April marks the start of the birthing season for the milu deer, which has long been famed as having the head of a horse, the hooves of a cow, the tail of a donkey and the antlers of a deer. Source
  • China talking with European Space Agency about moon outpost

    Tech & Science CTV News
    BEIJING -- Representatives of China and the European Space Agency are discussing potential collaboration on a human outpost on the moon and other possible joint endeavours, according to a spokesman for the European agency and Chinese media reports. Source
  • Dolphin vaginas no longer a total mystery, thanks to Canadian scientist

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Dara Orbach is probably one of very few people in the world who regularly gets sent dolphin vaginas in the mail. "The boxes don't usually smell very good when they arrive," says Orbach, a post-doctoral fellow at Dalhousie University and a research assistant at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts. Source
  • Uber to take to the skies with 'flying cars'

    Tech & Science Toronto Sun
    NEW YORK — Uber is taking to the skies with its next project — “flying cars” — even as all eyes are on its problems on the ground. On Tuesday, the embattled ride-hailing company announced plans for an on-demand network of electric aircraft that can take off and land vertically, like a helicopter. Source
  • Say what? How a Canadian company can clone your voice

    Tech & Science CBC News
    The gap between human voices and computer voices is closing. A new Canadian startup called Lyrebird says it can copy anyone's voice and make them say anything. What is Lyrebird? It's a Canadian company that specializes in speech synthesis software. Source
  • Advocate notches victory for computer buyers after battery didn't match promise

    Tech & Science CTV News
    HALIFAX -- A young Halifax man famous for repeatedly taking on the big airlines has won a victory against a new multinational corporate foe: Dell computers. Gabor Lukacs won just a small amount -- $1,889.32 -- but it could feel like a major achievement for anyone who was been unhappy with a consumer product, or who has been unwilling to sign a confidentiality agreement after being compensated for a disappointing purchase. Source
  • Meet Steve, the curious ribbon of purplish light discovered in Alberta skies

    Tech & Science CBC News
    Alberta sky watchers chasing the northern lights have partnered with scientists on the discovery of a curious ribbon of purplish light that everyone is calling "Steve." The feature is attracting attention for its unexpected name, as well as the way it was discovered, said Eric Donovan, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Calgary. Source
  • Fiat Chrysler expands Google self-driving car fleet to 500

    Tech & Science CBC News
    ?Fiat Chrysler and Google for the first time will offer rides to the public in the self-driving vehicles they are building under an expanding partnership, with Google expanding its fleet to 500 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans. Source
  • World's last male rhino getting help from Tinder dating app

    Tech & Science CTV News
    NAIROBI, Kenya -- The world's last male northern white rhino has joined the Tinder dating app as wildlife experts make a last-chance breeding effort to keep his species alive. "I don't mean to be too forward, but the fate of the species literally depends on me," the rhino's profile says. Source
  • Google targets 'fake news,' offensive search suggestions

    Tech & Science CTV News
    SAN FRANCISCO -- Google has sprinkled some new ingredients into its search engine in an effort to prevent bogus information and offensive suggestions from souring its results. The changes announced Tuesday reflects Google's confidence in a new screening system designed to reduce the chances that its influential search engine will highlight untrue stories about people and events, a phenomenon commonly referred to as "fake news. Source