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Hollywood hospital pays bitcoin ransom to hackers

19 February 2016, 09:37

Los Angeles - A Los Angeles hospital has paid $17,000 in bitcoins to hackers who took control of its computers for more than a week, officials said.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center said in a statement that it paid 40 bitcoins, the equivalent of $17,000 dollars, in ransom money to bring its computer systems back online earlier this month.

The hospital's chief executive Allen Stefanek said staff first noticed problems with accessing the facility's information system on February 5 and a probe was launched.

"The malware locked access to certain computer systems and prevented us from sharing communications electronically," Stefanek said.

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

Also Read: Bitcoin surpasses $1 000 for first time

He said the systems were back up on Monday and there was no evidence that patient or employee information had been compromised.

Law enforcement officials told the Los Angeles Times that the ransom was paid before authorities were alerted.

The FBI's Los Angeles bureau said it was investigating the cyber attack, called "ransomware," which is a type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing information on their computer system.

Bitcoin is a form of digital currency that is increasingly becoming the favorite way for bitcoing hackers to collect ransom money.



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