Hollywood Hospital Pays $17,000 Bitcoin Ransom To Rescue Hacked Network

A medical center located in Hollywood, California, paid hackers 40 bitcoins worth nearly $17,000 in U.S. currency to decrypt its files that were being held ransom. The ransom amount is far less than the $3.6 million that was being thrown around when news of the security breach went public, but is no less disheartening that those responsible were able to pull something like this off.

Things went sour for Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center when malware spread on its computer systems earlier this month. Known as ransomware, the malware encrypted critical files across the medical center's network, including medical records, forcing staff to turn off all systems to prevent it from spreading further.


While the systems were down, staff had to manually jot down registrations and medical records using pen and paper. The outbreak also forced the medical center to disable PCs used for things like CT scans, performing laboratory work, and running the pharmacy. Some patients even had to be transferred to other hospitals.

Due to the inconvenience on staff and patients, the medical center opted to pay hackers the ransom.

"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," said Allen Stefanek, CEO of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center. "In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."

Apparently the ransom was paid before the medical center contacted law enforcement—it's not clear if the FBI or Los Angeles Police Department would have advised doing so. Both agencies are investigating the matter.