Hackers Encrypt Hollywood Hospital’s Systems with Ransomware

For nearly a week, the computer systems at Hollywood Presbyterian Memorial Medical Center have been crippled by the work of malicious hackers who are seeking a ransom in exchange for restoring the hospital’s systems.

Officials have confirmed that the Los Angeles Police Department and the FBI have launched an investigation on a cyberattack that shut down the computer systems of a Hollywood hospital that has now lasted a week.

NBC News reports a statement by Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center CEO and hospital president Allen Stefanek that pointed “significant IT issues.” Moreover, the hospital staff had “declared an internal emergency,” according to multiple news reports.

All signs point to the hack being one of a ransomware-led cyberattack. Typically, ransomware is spread via phishing scams and malicious emails which encrypts crucial system and data files on the targeted user’s computer. After the encryption run, the ransomware reveals a note with instructions to make a payment in the virtual currency – Bitcoin. A bitcoin address is included in the note, one belonging to the hacker or the hacker group behind the ransomware.

Fox News spoke to computer forensics veteran Eric Robi who gained knowledge of the hacking attack.

“The hackers have demanded, I think 9,000 bitcoin or so that’s a little over $3 Million,” Robi revealed. ”It’s an unfortunate hack, a ransomware hack where they’re asking for money in exchange for unlocking records at the hospital,” Robi added.

By today’s rates, that figure is closer to $3.6 million, a significant ransom figure sought in exchange for the decryption key that will enable the hospital to regain access to key systems.

Currently, some patients are being transported to other facilities and hospitals to receive treatment. Also, the computer networks powering lab work, CT scans and the hospital pharmacy among other facilities are still offline after a week.

The hospital staff are also without email access and are unable to use some patient records. The staff are also having to resort to the legacy methods such as a pen and paper during new registration of patients as well as patient logs to keep track of procedures.

The FBI and the LAPD are currently investigating the source of the cyberattack. The hospital has hired an independent cyber forensics firm to help restore its computer systems.

Image credit: Wikimedia.