Hospital Becomes Victim of Ransomware Attack

Jordan Kadlec

Hollywood_Presbyterian_Medical_Center.pngHollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has become the latest victim of a ransomware attack, causing them to cease normal day-to-day operations. Hackers took the medical center’s system hostage over a week ago and are demanding 9,000 Bitcoin or $3.6 million to decrypt the system and hospital’s files. This attack has caused the employees to go back to what some would consider the “stone age.” The staff has turned to manual documentation, using pen and paper to take down patient information. This has jammed fax lines and telephones with both internal communications between departments and external communications with personnel and patients. The use of computers is strictly prohibited with the fear of the harmful software spreading to more workstations.

Ransomware is a type of malware that is spread through email, infected pop-up advertisements or by visiting an infected website. When infected, hackers hold your computer and data hostage until you agree to pay a ransom. While there are several types of ransomware, all of them will prevent you from using your computer normally and will ask for payment in order to recover the locked data. Bitcoins, a form of currency, is usually favored because it is extremely difficult to track down once it is paid out.

While the hacker’s identities are currently unknown, the FBI, Los Angeles Police Department, and cyber security experts are working diligently to right the ship. The source of the ransomware is also unknown at the moment, but officials believe it may have been installed inadvertently by a hospital employee who opened up a malicious link from an email - once again, making the employees of a company the most vulnerable link in the cyber security chain.

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With $3.6 million being demanded by the hackers, this certainly marks one of the largest ransoms to-date. However, ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common and are evidently becoming more lucrative for hackers. Ransomware saw a 165% increase in the first quarter of 2015 and is only projected to grow in 2016.

WatchPoint can help keep your company safe from ransomware. WatchPoint uses an early warning system to detect any potential ransomware threats to your system. The collective intelligence of millions of endpoints, captured through the Carbon Black surveillance and intelligence security system, stops ransomware in its path before it hits your system. Should you be unlucky enough to still get hit by ransomware, WatchPoint’s SWAT team of security experts is on hand, instantly reacting to the attack, quarantining the infected system to protect your extended network. The SWAT team can deal with the security breach, containing the problem and removing the malicious software.

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