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Mon May 30 18:26:50 SAST 2016

Hackers hold hospital to ransom

Reuters | 19 February, 2016 01:03
"Patient care has not been compromised in any way," Stefanek said. File photo
Image by: Thinkstock

A hospital in Hollywood in the US paid hackers a ransom of $17000 in bitcoins to regain control of its computer systems after a cyber attack.

Allen Stefanek, president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Centre, said paying the ransom was the "quickest and most efficient way" of regaining access to the affected systems, which were crippled on February 5 and interfered with the hospital staff's ability to communicate electronically.

Stefanek said there was no evidence that any patient or employee information was accessed in the so-called malware attack, and that the hospital had fully restored access to its electronic medical record system on Monday.

"Patient care has not been compromised in any way," Stefanek said.

Stefanek said the attack locked them out of their systems by encrypting files for which only the hackers had the decryption key. He said computer experts worked feverishly to restore system access and uncover the source.

The origin of the computer network intrusion remains unknown but it bogged down communications between physicians and medical staff who had to rely on paper records and doctors' notoriously messy handwriting.

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