This week it hit news headlines that the Los Angeles hospital, the Hollywood Presbyterian Center, had become the victim of a ransomware attack. The hospital’s servers were taken over and they were unable to access patient records, X-rays and other important data, potentially threatening the lives of its patients.
Ransomware, if you didn’t know, is a form of cybercrime in which your computer is remotely taken over and all of you data is encrypted. A sum of money, usually in the form of Bitcoins, is demanded of you for the files to be decrypted. Of course, paying the ransom is no guarantee that you will get your data back. There is often a deadline in these situations, in which the ransom gets continually higher over time and if you don’t pay by the deadline then the encryption key to your files is deleted and your data is lost forever.
The attack completely paralysed the hospital, with emergency patients having to be diverted to other hospitals. According to Allen Stefanek, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center’s CEO, staff had had to resort to doing everything by hand with paper filing as they could not risk a further attack. The FBI is now investigating the case.
It is important to be aware that the effects of ransomware can easily be avoided as long as regular backups of your system are in place and you have a good disaster recovery plan. ACUTEC’s recommended option for this is Microsoft Azure Backup and Site Recovery, which is a cost-effective solution. You can read more about it here.
We urge the West Midlands community to remain vigilant and aware of the dangers of cybercrime. If it does happen to you and your business then ensure that you immediately shut down your systems and contact the police. For more information on ransomware and other forms of cybercrime then please consult our Playbook.