Hospital pays $17k ransom to get medical records back from hackers

Hollywood (Calif.) Presbyterian Medical Center has paid $17,000 to hackers, ending an electronic standoff that began Feb. 5, in which a ransomware attack rendered the hospital's IT systems and medical records inaccessible.

A Wednesday statement from hospital President and CEO Allen Stefanek maintained that media reportage of a 9000 bitcoins, or $3.4 million ransom, was false.

"The amount of ransom requested was 40 Bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $17,000," Mr. Stefanek wrote. "The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."

Additionally, the statement reinforces that the incident had no effect on patient care in any way, although numerous sources reported the IT systems-lockout resulted in patients being diverted to other area hospitals, as well as had hospital staff exchanging information through fax machines and reverting to pen-and-paper note taking.

The hospital regained access to its EHR on Monday, and all systems have been tested and found free of the malware that triggered the initial problem, according to Mr. Stefanek.

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