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Hollywood Hospital Pays $17,000 in Bitcoins to Hackers Who Took Control of Computers

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Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoins to a hacker who seized control of hospital’s computer systems and would only give back access when the money was paid, the hospital’s chief executive said Wednesday.

The assault on Hollywood Presbyterian computers occurred Feb. 5, when hackers using malware infected the institution’s computers, preventing hospital staff from being able to communicate from those devices, said CEO Allen Stefanek. With the help of experts, the hospital was able to restore its electronic medical record system by Monday, he said in a statement.

The hacker demanded 40 Bitcoins the equivalent of about $17,000, he said.

“The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key,” Stefanek said. “In the best in interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

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