Cybercrime at Work: Hospital Forced to Pay $17K Ransom to Get Back its Data


Cybercrime has become a common thing in today’s highly tech-savvy population of the world. In the latest event, a Los Angeles hospital has been forced to pay $17,000 to hackers who took control of the institutions network and encrypted the files on the system.

This payment will with no doubt bring back to life the debate on how to handle cybercrime referred to as ransomware.

Hospital locked out of system for 10 days by hackers

According to the top management of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, the hackers had seized the hospital’s network for up to 10 days. However, once the ransom was paid, the system was handed back to the institution, together with the unencrypted data.

CEO of the hospital Allen Stefanek said that law enforcement agencies, as well as a flurry of computer experts, were made aware of the situation at hand; however, none of these efforts was of any help as far as recovering the encrypted files is concerned. One major reason why this couldn’t be of any help is the duration it would take for the law enforcers to capture the criminal and force them to hand over the network. It would even take longer for computer experts to come in and try to trace the source of the cybercrime. The hospital’s management thought that the best and quick way to handle this was simply to pay the ransom.

“The quickest and most efficient way of restoring our systems was simply to pay the demanded ransom and get back the decryption key,” Stefanek said. “In the best interest of getting back to normal operations, we did this.”


Ransom paid in form of bitcoins

Other than demand for a wire transfer or something of the sought, today’s hackers are smarter. Instead, they demand bitcoins – a form of currency used on the internet. The cybercriminals demanded 40 bitcoins, or about $17,000, the CEO said.

This style of attack is nothing new to tech savvy individuals, companies as well as organizations. In fact, ransomware attacks have been here for the past decade, but they have grown in scale over the past few years thanks to the fact that they have higher chances of success as opposed to typical cybercrime activity. Once attacked by this malware, you will either pay the demanded fee or lose your data.

To stay safe, always ensure that your data has some kind of offline backup that can be relied on in case of such happenings.

There is no doubt that the move taken by the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center will highly be criticized thanks to the fact that it only encourages the act. However, it should be understood that the hospital had very limited choices on the table – either pay the fee or lose all files, which included the entire electronic medical record system.



Share your comments here