This article is more than 1 year old

LA hospital coughs up $17,000 to free PCs held to ransom by hackers

How to make an infection go away in US healthcare system – throw money at it

A hospital in Los Angeles, California, has paid a US$17,000 (£11,900, AU$23,800) ransom to hackers who injected its computers with malware that scrambled its files.

It appears PCs at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center were infected and paralyzed by ransomware, which silently encrypts documents and refuses to hand over the decryption key until a sum is paid.

Allen Stefanek, the hospital's CEO, said in a statement on Wednesday that the 40 Bitcoin ransom was coughed up as it was "the quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions."

The malware started poisoning the Tinseltown center's computers on February 5, we're told, forcing some patients to be treated elsewhere and pushing medics back to the era of fax machines and pen and paper. On Monday, systems were back to full health, and it was stressed that people's private records were not harmed by the software nasty.

The $17,000, though a decent wedge, is somewhat lower than the earlier reported $3.6m ransom of 9,000 BTC. The infection has been described as "random" rather than targeted, suggesting a staffer opened a dodgy email or visited a malicious website that caused the network to be laid low.

The FBI is probing the outbreak. ®

More about


Send us news

Other stories you might like