A hospital in California has coughed up a whopping amount of money to a group of hackers who plagued their computer systems with a computer virus dubbed as ransomware that locked up infected data and required a ransom to unlock it.
The hospital happens to be Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center and was forced to pay roughly $17,000 to recover their data. Interestingly the hackers required that the ransom be paid in the form of 40 Bitcoins.
Bitcoin payments provide a specific level of obscurity which is possibly why they’re called an “anonymous” form of currency. The concept of anonymity is stemmed from the manner that payments can be sent and received, even without divulging the personal information of both the sender and the receiver. The incident is the first of its kind.
A year ago, police in Maine shelled out around $300 to unlock their files, while a police department in Boston paid $500 after both discovered their systems were locked by ransomware.
U.S. Senator Bob Hertzberg was noted by the Los Angeles Times as having mentioned to ransomware extortion as “an electronic stickup” that is the same level with extortion. Consequently, Hertzberg proposed legislation few days ago with a language projected to label a computer infected with ransomware as a crime that is similar to extortion.
With regards to Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s resorting to pay the ransom, Allen Stefanek, the hospital’s chief executive officer said that they arrived at decision with “the best interest of restoring normal operations” and the same time it was the “quickest and most efficient way” to bring back their systems.
Ryan Kalembar, Proofprint’s senior vice president of cybersecurity strategy stated to the CBS News that their decision “was the easy choice” although he “wouldn’t say it was the right choice.” The hospital is now in the cumbersome position of channeling the ransom into what is possibly an organized crime. He also said that Proofpoint has even witnessed “terror groups finance their organizations by using operations like cyber crime and ransomware.”
What are your insights about the decision of the hospital to pay the ransom to restore their systems?