The malware ransom attack on Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center — which prompted the facility to pay a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to the hacker who seized control of the hospital’s computer systems — is part of a larger problem that is generating outrage.
The hospital attack has prompted a California state senator to propose making it an extortion crime for a hacker to infect a computer system with so-called ransomware.
The cyberattack is made when a malware program engages as soon as a victim clicks on a compromised website. The virus then locks the victim’s computer.
In warning about the problem several years ago, local law enforcement said computers often display a fake message purporting to be from the FBI or Department of Justice, claiming that the user’s Internet address has been associated with child pornography sites or other illegal activity.
The malware program tells users they can unlock their computers by making a payment through a money card service.
The assault on Hollywood Presbyterian occurred Feb. 5