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Healthcare, ransomware, and effective cyber-security hygiene

Jaclyn Jaeger | March 1, 2016

Imagine this: You’re a large healthcare provider whose staff is having trouble accessing vital records in your hospital’s computer network. Your IT department begins an immediate investigation and determines the cause to be a malware attack. Worse yet, the attackers are demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. How do you respond?

For Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, this was no fire drill. On Feb. 17, the hospital disclosed that it had experienced a malware attack earlier that month, which temporarily affected the operation of its computer network. Specifically, the malware locked access to certain computer systems by encrypting files, preventing hospital staff from sharing communications electronically.

To make matters worse, the hackers demanded ransom to obtain the decryption key—40 Bitcoins, or approximately $17,000, to be exact. “The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain...

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