Hackers paid $17,000 in bitcoin ransom by L.A. hospital to get back medical records

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Los Angeles hospital paid hackers $17,000 ransom in Bitcoins to decrypt medical records. We had earlier reported that hackers had infected the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles with a ransomware and had demanded a ransom of $3.6 million from the hospital authorities for decryption of the files. The hospital has bowed to the hackers extortion attempt and paid the hackers $17,000 in bitcoin.

The president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center Allen Stefanek said on Wednesday that his hospital paid hackers a ransom of $17,000 in bitcoins to regain control of their computer systems after a cyber attack. In a statement issued by the hospital Stefanek said that paying the ransom was the “quickest and most efficient way” of regaining access to the affected systems, which were crippled on Feb. 5 and interfered with hospital staff’s ability to communicate electronically.

Stefanek said there was no evidence that any patient or employee information was accessed in the so-called malware attack, and that the hospital fully restored access to its electronic medical record system this Monday.

“Patient care has not been compromised in any way,” Stefanek said.

Stefanek said the attack locked them out of their systems by encrypting files for which only the hackers had the decryption key. He said the hospital notified law enforcement and computer experts worked feverishly to restore system access and uncover the source.

The malware infection was brought upon by a hospital staffer who has not yet been identified. However, since the ransomware had encrypted all the hospital files making the conducting of normal hospital activities impossible. The hospital had in fact, been transferring its patients to nearby hospitals to avoid inconvenience to them.

The FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are working to pinpoint the hacker or hackers responsible for the intrusion, FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said on Wednesday.