Hollywood Hospital's Network Compromised, Hackers Demand $3.6 Million Ransom

Could you go a full day without using your PC? It might not be all that difficult on a casual basis, but for workers at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, they've had the challenge of servicing patients without the aid of any computer systems for over a week due to a malware outbreak and subsequent ransom demand.

A local computer consultant said the ransom is in the neighborhood of 9,000 Bitcoins, which is about $3.6 million in U.S. currency. The hackers responsible likely chose Bitcoin as their payment method of choice because the cryptocurrency is anonymous and difficult to trace, especially after they've been laundered.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center

This is no harmless prank, and not just because of the amount of money being demanded. Registrations and medical records are all being written by hand while the computers are down, and systems used for things like CT scans, performing lab work, and running the pharmacy are all offline as well. The medical center has even had to shuttle some of its patients to other hospitals so they could continue to receive care.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center CEO Allen Stefanek described the situation as an "internal emergency." At the same time, he contends that the hit on his place of employment was "random" and not malicious, at least in the sense that those responsible didn't seek out a healthcare facility.

The type of malware the medical center is dealing with is called ransomware. That's when the type of malware involved holds files hostages (often through encryption) and/or disables certain functions with a promise to restore things to the way they were once a payment is made.over the Internet.

The identity of the hacker(s) is under investigation by the FBI and Los Angeles Police Department.