Hospital Operations Halted by Ransomware

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a full-service hospital in Southern California was hacked last week. The cyber attack resulted in the hospital declaring an “internal emergency” and transferring some of it’s patients to other medical facilities to receive care.

This was a deliberate and planned attack against the hospital that targeted patient files and locked them, causing the hospital to be unable to access information necessary for the care of their patients. Despite working with the FBI the Los Angeles Police Department and cyber-forensics experts to identify the perpetrators and decrypt the files, Hollywood Presbyterian was forced to pay the scammers a ransom for the encryption key to unlock the files.

Ransomware is the suspected culprit. This type of malware self-installs once downloaded, usually without the user being aware, and enrypts system files. It then allows the sender to hold the encrypted files for “ransom” until the end-user pays a fee for the encryption key.

The probability of such attacks can be decreased with proper security protocols and training for staff.