The Latest: Hospital attack concerns cybersecurity experts

AP News
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Posted: Feb 18, 2016 5:50 PM
The Latest: Hospital attack concerns cybersecurity experts

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Latest on a Los Angeles hospital that paid hackers to release its computer system (all times local):

2:50 a.m.

Cybersecurity experts worry that the $17,000 a Los Angeles hospital paid hackers to regain control of its computers could signal a troubling escalation of the growing "ransomware" threat.

A typical ransomware attack starts when a person opens an emailed link or attachment. Malicious code locks the computer or, worse, an entire network. Ransomware victims pay for a "key" to unlock data.

The president of Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center said the facility paid the bounty "in the best interest of restoring normal operations."

It's unusual that the attack became public and the hospital revealed the cost. Most ransomware victims pay quietly or abandon their infected machines.

Computer security experts said hospitals are particularly vulnerable because some medical equipment runs on old operating systems that cannot be safeguarded easily.