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LA Hospital Pays Ransom to Computer Hackers


A Los Angeles hospital is back up and running after paying a hefty ransom to computer hackers.

The FBI is investigating the case at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center where administrators were locked out of their own patient records in an attack that began on Feb. 5.

The hackers demanded a ransom of 40 bitcoins, worth about $17,000. Bitcoin is an online digital payment that's hard to trace.

Hospital CEO Allen Stefanek said they paid the ransom to restore normal operations.

"The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key," Stefanek said. "In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this."

Security expert Seven Gomez told local television reporters he wasn't "surprised" at their decision.

"I'm not surprised because the fact is they have a lot of sensitive identification information of the patients and of their employees," Gomez said. "I am sure the law-enforcement agencies are not happy with the fact that the hospital paid the ransom."
There are questions about whether the hospital did the right thing. Ransomware attacks can happen to everyone from individuals to large institutions.

There's been a steady rise in the number of such attacks, according to a report released last November by Intel Corp.'s McAfee Labs. The study expects attacks to increase in 2016 as hackers gain access to more sophisticated software.

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