On Feb. 5, employees at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, Calif., started having network access problems that prevented electronic communications. Over the next few days, they learned that the hospital was the victim of a ransomware attack that encrypted files on multiple computers.
After several days during which staff had to resort to pen and paper for some recordkeeping, the hospital decided to pay the $17,000 ransom -- the equivalent of 40 bitcoins that the attackers had requested. It was deemed to be the fastest way to restore the affected files and systems.
This was to be the first in a string of ransomware attacks that affected multiple healthcare organizations in the U.S. over the following months, including the Chino Valley Medical Center, the Desert Valley Hospital and Methodist Hospital in Henderson, Ky.