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California Hospital Pays 40 Bitcoins As Ransom To Hackers

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, a Los Angeles-based hospital, is the latest victim of a ransomware attack. The hospital paid the ransom of 40 bitcoins, worth around $16,664 dollars, demanded by the hackers.

The network infiltration began on February 5. The medical center's chief executive said Wednesday that paying was in the best interest of the hospital and the most efficient way to solve the problem.

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

The Associated Press reported that the hospital’s staff noticed the network problems on Feb. 5, and identified that there was a malware infiltration that was disabling the network.

Stefanek said that computer experts and law enforcement were informed immediately and ten days after the attack, the network was in full operation again. He added that patient care was not affected by the hacking, and there is no evidence any patient data was compromised.

Laura Eimiller, FBI spokeswoman, said the agency is investigating the extortion plot, without revealing any further details.

There were speculations that the hackers demanded 9000 bitcoins in ransom. However, in an official statement, Stefanek said that these reports are false:

“The reports of the hospital paying 9000 Bitcoins or $3.4 million are false. The amount of ransom requested was 40 Bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $17,000. The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key.”

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