- Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles took center stage last week after it paid the equivalent of $17,000 in bitcoins to a hacker to regain control of its computer systems.
- The situation is not the first of its kind, following examples of at least two previous "ransomware" attacks on different law enforcement agencies in the Northeast, and sparking concern and outrage over the possible trend.
- California Senator Bob Hertzberg (D) is fighting back with proposed legislation to designate this type of hack as an extortion crime punishable by up to four years in prison, The Los Angeles Times reports.
The actual hack took place Feb. 5, and the hospital paid the ransom before contacting law enforcement, the Times reports.
"The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key,” Chief Executive Allen Stefanek said. “In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”
Cybersecurity authority Phil Lieberman told the Times ransomeware attacks are common but that this was the first he had heard of such a scheme targeting a medical institution.
Hertzberg releaed a statement regarding his legislation, “We must be clear that we will not tolerate this kind of conduct, and that using modern tactics to engage in age-old thuggery of ransom and extortion do not change the seriousness of the crime.”