By Julia Zorthian
February 18, 2016

A Los Angeles hospital has handed more than 40 bitcoins in ransom — approximately $17,000 — to hackers who took control of its medical records.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center announced the breach of its computer network and its choice to pay the hackers for a decryption key in a Wednesday statement. The hospital regained access to its own network on February 15, following the payment.

“Unfortunately, a lot of companies don’t tell anybody if they had fallen victim to ransomware and especially if they have paid the criminals,” Adam Kujawa, a malware expert for the company Malwarebytes, told the Associated Press. “I know from the experiences I hear about from various industry professionals that it’s a pretty common practice to just hand over the cash.”

Hospital employees noticed their network wasn’t functioning properly on February 5, and experts soon concluded that someone had attacked their system with malware. Hospital President and CEO Allen Stefanek wrote complying with the demands of the hackers was the most efficient way to regain access to their medical records and methods of communication.

[AP]

Write to Julia Zorthian at julia.zorthian@time.com.

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