Hollywood Hospital Says it Paid a Ransom to Hackers

Hollywood Hospital Says it Paid a Ransom to Hackers
File photo by Zach Copley/Flickr

A Hollywood hospital says it paid a ransom to hackers in order to get its data back online.

A group of unknown hackers held Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center's computer network hostage as they demanded about $17,000 worth of bitcoin, the institution said this afternoon.

"The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key," said hospital CEO Allen Stefanek. "In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."

The information network at Hollywood Presbyterian had been taken over for more than a week, forcing the facility to use old-school methods of communication and record keeping — namely paper documents — to keep things moving.

Stefanek said the hack "affected the operation of our enterprise" but that "this incident did not affect the delivery and quality of the excellent patient care you expect and receive from Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. ... Patient care has not been compromised in any way." 

"We want to assure you the patient care ... has not been compromised as we adjust to this incident," the institution said previously.

The hack began Friday and was over Monday, the CEO said. "All systems currently in use were cleared of the malware and thoroughly tested," Stefanek said.

"We continue to work with our team of experts to understand more about this event."

The FBI took over the investigation of the cyber invasion.

"We have an ongoing investigation," an FBI spokeswoman told us. "Because it's ongoing, we can't provide any further comment."

Stefanek told NBC Los Angeles last week that the institution "declared an internal emergency" after the hack began.

He said he believed the hospital was a random target.

Some patients had to be transferred to other facilities, he said, while records were being kept on paper.

Experts say that, because of the apparent success of the attack, more could be forthcoming.

"This whole situation raises the specter of our collective entry into a frightening new world," writes Wired.


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