Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center takes systems offline due to ransomware attack

Staff at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have been working without electronic health record and email access for more than a week after a ransomware attack, according to NBC4 News.

In such attacks, cybercriminals infect a system with malicious software--often via phishing attacks--and lock up files, demanding ransom to unlock them under threat of deleting them. The hackers, who have not yet been identified, are demanding payment of 9,000 Bitcoins, or just over $3.6 million dollars, according to CSO.

The hospital is working with the Los Angeles Police Department, the FBI and hired cybersecurity specialists on the attack. It says no patient data has been compromised, but staff have to work on paper and through fax machines.

An unnamed doctor told NBC4 News that the hospital's fax machines are becoming jammed because staff generally use computer systems to document care, transmit lab results and share imaging scans. Doctors have no previous medical records for patients coming in, and some outpatients have missed treatments, the doctor added. Patients are being told they must pick up their lab results rather than receiving them electronically.

Ransomware attacks are on the rise, including an attack on Mount Pleasant, Texas-based Titus Regional Medical Center in January. Meanwhile, Forrester Research has predicted that this year ransom attacks will begin to target medical devices such as pacemakers.

While healthcare is the sector most targeted by hackers, it's the least prepared when it comes to cyberattacks, the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology reported recently.

To learn more:
- here's the NBC4 News report
- read the CSO story

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