Tags: hacker | ransomware | hospitals | hostage | data

Hacker Ransomware Hits Hospitals, Holds Data Hostage

Image: Hacker Ransomware Hits Hospitals, Holds Data Hostage
An analyst looks at code in the malware lab of a cyber security defense lab at the Idaho National Laboratory in Idaho Falls, Idaho September 29, 2011. (Jim Urquhart/Reuters)

By    |   Monday, 28 Mar 2016 01:11 PM

Hackers spreading ransomware computer viruses are increasingly targeting hospitals, holding their data hostage and demanding payment for its safe return.

The attacks led Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles to pay a $17,000 ransom last month, and attacks have spread to hospitals in Kentucky, and Ottawa, Ontario, during the past two weeks, Newsweek reported. Last week, a hospital in West Virginia reported disruptions and began working with authorities to determine whether the problem was another ransomware attack.

Ransomware, a type of malicious software, blocks hospital officials from their own data by accessing and encrypting the files.

Patient information usually doesn't appear to be stolen during the attacks. Rather, ransomware attackers aim to disrupt business and seek ransom, Newsweek explained.

Two other California hospitals — Chino Valley Medical Center in Chino and Desert Valley Hospital of Victorville — were also targeted by ransomware attacks, the Los Angeles Times reported.

“This is similar to challenges hospitals across the country are facing, and we have taken extraordinary steps to protect and expeditiously find a resolution to this disruption,” said Fred Ortega, a spokesman for Prime Healthcare Services Inc., which owns the two hospitals, according to the Times. He said patient data wasn’t compromised and a ransom hasn’t been paid.

As in other cases, hackers have spread malware that encrypts the data and then asked for a ransom. They typically ask for payment in via bitcoin, a digital currency.

The FBI is investigating the attacks, and has released recommendations for businesses, local governments and other organizations targeted by the cyber criminals. The FBI recommends not paying the ransom, having a backup of data maintained and disconnected from your computer, and scrutinizing e-mails for malicious links and attachments.

“The bad guys burrow into a system often months in advance, map out the network, and the deploy the ransomware at what they believe to b e the most critical assets of the organization,” said James Pastore, a former federal prosecutor in New York who is now a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton, according to The Washington Post. He worked on a ransomware case involving 18 countries in the European Union.

The crimes have become increasingly sophisticated and can affect entire networks, the Post reported.
 

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Hackers spreading ransomware computer viruses are increasingly targeting hospitals, holding their data hostage and demanding payment for its safe return.
hacker, ransomware, hospitals, hostage, data
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2016-11-28
Monday, 28 Mar 2016 01:11 PM
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