Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a 434 bed hospital located in Los Angeles, paid $17,000 to gain access to their encrypted data after falling victim to ransomware the evening of February 5th, 2015.

Ransomware is one of the newest trends in digital warfare, in which the malware will encrypt private data or networks and hold it "ransom."  The only way to gain access to the encrypted data or network is with the decryption key, which the offending hackers will happily sell to you - in this case for $17,000.  The ransom was paid by HPMC in the form of bitcoins, a notoriously anonymous digital currency.  In exchange the hackers provided the decryption key necessary to gain access to their systems once again.

This alarming trend will continue to grow as long as hackers are successfully sneaking their ransomware & other malware into critical environments, such as hospitals, government offices & other important systems.

How can it be stopped?  By maintaining diligence and the highest level of security feasible.  In the world of White Hat (good guys) vs Black Hats (bad guys) nothing will ever be "hack proof" but there are steps, processes, software & hardware that can be utilized to make it near-impossible.  By implementing appropriate countermeasures and security policies you can make hacking a network so difficult and time-consuming that it becomes not-worth-while for the hackers and they move on looking for an easier target.

This nonsense ends, or nearly ends, when the hackers fail to find that easier target.

Not sure if your network, data and machines are safe?  Give us a ring and help put a stop to this bully tactic used by hackers.

Forever Diligent,

Patrick Wright
Principal - STP Ventures, LLC

Article References

  • http://hollywoodpresbyterian.com/default/assets/File/20160217%20Memo%20from%20the%20CEO%20v2.pdf
  • http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/wireStory/hospital-paid-17k-ransom-hackers-computer-network-37015094

Secondary Reference:

  • Our big brains!