This is a guest post by Addison James.
In a February 17 letter, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center President CEO Allen Stefanek said, “…the amount of Bitcoins requested was 40 Bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $17,000.”
This is the number of bitcoins that the HPMC transferred to a hacker or hackers in exchange for the decryption key to the malware locking them out of their IT systems. The hospital’s network was under attack for 11 days (February 5-15 ) before Stefanek paid the ransom.
While headlines jested about a hospital staff reverting back to pre-1990s procedures when paper and pen were the data medium of the day, a technological regression on this order, when lives are at stake, required a calculation. Stefanek and the hospital had to decide whether people’s lives were worth 40 bitcoins.
Ultimately, HPMC calculated their losses and liability and paid. This type of Bitcoin-based ransomware has been on the rise since 2013 when it is estimated that more than 200 malware programs were being released every minute of that year.
Initially, there was CryptoLocker, the ransomware that demanded about $300 in bitcoins from the personal computer user before wiping their hard drives. In early 2015, security companies McAfee and