The Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital had no choice but to pay hackers their ransom demand of $17,000 in bitcoin, which was something law enforcement warned against doing. It was the lesser of two evils for this hospital, who had absolutely no control over their computers that contained everything from the patient’s files to the hospital’s financials.
SoloNews reports on February 18 that the hackers brought the entire computer system at the hospital to a halt, which means business was soon to follow. The hospital could not do business without access to their files and although law enforcement did not want them to pay the hackers the $17,000 ransom, their hands were tied.
The malware planted by the hackers locked the system by encrypting the files and despite experts in the field trying to bring the computers back up, this wasn’t going to happen. While diligently working to try and restore the system when it was still under the influence of the hackers, law enforcement was working trying to find the culprits.
This type of attack is nothing new and experts believe that many go unreported. The hackers didn’t ask for a huge amount of money. In comparison to what the hospital would risk losing daily without access to their computers, the $17,000 was a drop in the bucket.
Asking for such a small amount of money in the scope of things is done on purpose because the hackers know that hospitals or businesses are more likely to pay this small amount than if they had asked for millions. That is why it is hard to estimate how many times this has been done and how many businesses have paid these hackers a ransom and others like them.
La-Kbylie.com reports that the hackers gained control of the hospitals computers on February 5 and the hospital has just gained back the control of their computers. They report that the experts believe the computers were hacked by malware that came in on an email and when someone in the hospital opened that email, the hack was on.
Many businesses do not report the hacking, they pay the ransom. This way the computers are put back in their control and it is business as usual. It is probably the company the hacked businesses call afterwards to secure up their computers that makes the most money out of these types of hacks.
According to Allen Stefanek, who is the hospital CEO and president, he said this attack was random and the hackers didn’t want anything to do with the information that was stored on the hospital servers. They just wanted to shut them down and make money out of turning them back on, which they were successful at.
Stefanek also said that when looking at the overall picture, “The quickest and most efficient way of restoring our systems was simply to pay the demanded ransom and get back the decryption key.” This is just what the hospital did and probably many other businesses too that just never reported this type of hack.
With the ransom being such a small amount of money in comparison to what the business, or in this case the hospital, would lose without use of their computers, common sense on their part says to take this road and pay the hackers. But law enforcement finds it just eggs the hackers on to do this again.
The hospital paid the ransom in bitcoins and the way it was done really leaves no way of tracking them online. Instead of bank robbers with hostages, it looks like the future opens an entirely new hostage-taking crime with computers. It sure was easy enough for the hackers, who sat back somewhere in this world and made themselves a nice chunk of money with the click of a few keys on the keyboard.