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Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital Latest Victim to Ransomware Virus

Nov 16, 2016, 13:05 PM by Peter Ely

Yesterday news broke about Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center having to pay a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin because hackers seized control of the hospital’s network and data files. Worse yet, it was reported that medical equipment used in the treatment of patients was compromised.

Unfortunately, stories like this have become all too common. In just this year alone, we’ve seen multiple companies compromised by ransomware, and it is now a question of when not if your organization will be breached by these criminals. It is easy for these cybercriminals to seize control of your network. They blast out emails to all or most employee email addresses and wait for one or multiple employees to open the infected files. This is a trojan horse of a virus that masqueraded as non-threatening attachments. Once the network is compromised the malware spreads quickly from device to device until all files have been seized and encrypted by the criminals. If an offsite backup is not in place, the only way to restore this data is to give into the thieves and pay a ransom in exchange for the decryption key.

Thankfully, our customers’ data is protected from data loss because they’ve chosen KeepItSafe® as an effective way of backing their data up offsite. But not everyone is using offsite backup and the criminals have become so sophisticated that they can actually seek out onsite backup drives and erase them.

What makes this incident especially precarious is the fact that it was a hospital and patient files that were compromised. These thieves are now putting lives at risk. According to the LA Times, this is the 158th institution to have patient records compromised since 2010. The Times article goes on to say that last July, 4.5 million patient records in UCLA Health System’s computer network may have been accessed by hackers. Coincidentally, my friend'srecords were amongst them.

With the newswires rife with attacks on Apple, Target, Home Depot, the IRS, and now institutions closer to home – like Hollywood Hospital and UCLA Medical Group – it is more important than ever to have a data protection strategy in place that includes monitoring, firewalls and backup. In this day and age, it isn’t a matter of if we’ll be attacked, but when.


Patrick Rougeau

Technical Sales Engineer, KeepItSafe

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