The Hollywood Presbytarian Medical Center in Los Angeles had its computer systems disabled by hackers

Hospital pays ransom to hackers to regain control of computer system

A Los Angeles hospital has paid a ransom of $17,000 in bitcoins to an unknown hacking group to regain control of its computer systems after a cyber-attack.

The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center wasn’t able to properly use its electronic communication systems since 5 February because of a malware attack.

According to the centre’s director Allen Stefanek, the attackers managed to lock the staff out of the system by encrypting files for which only the hackers had the decryption key. Although the hospital alerted police and enlisted the help of computer experts, paying the ransom to obtain the key was the ‘quickest and most efficient way’ of regaining access to the affected systems, said Stefanek. He further added that there was no evidence that personal information of either staff or patients has been compromised.

The perpetrators of the attack are still unknown but the FBI and the Los Angeles Police Department are already trying to track them down.

During the attack, the physicians and medical staff were forced to return to the old-fashioned way of maintaining and relaying medical records using handwriting, paper, fax machines and telephone lines.

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