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Los Angeles Hospital Pays $17,000 Bitcoin Ransom To Hackers

The hack prevented Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center from accessing its computer systems, prompting the hospital to pay a ransom for the encryption key.

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A Los Angeles hospital paid hackers a ransom in bitcoin worth roughly $17,000 in order to regain access to a central computer system that was disabled earlier this this month, a top executive announced Wednesday.

Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center first discovered "issues accessing the hospital's computer network" on Feb. 5, according to a statement released Wednesday. The hospital's tech staff soon identified a malware attack that encrypted certain files, locking medical workers out of some systems and preventing electronic communication.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the hospital was forced to go back to using pen and paper for record keeping.

The hospital eventually paid a 40-bitcoin ransom — equivalent to about $17,000 — in exchange for an encryption key to undo the malware, CEO Allen Stefanek said in the statement. Paying the ransom, he added, was the "quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions."

Stefanek's statement did not say who orchestrated the attack or when the ransom was paid, and the hospital declined BuzzFeed News' request for additional information. However, the statement noted that the hospital regained control of its computer system on Monday.

The statement added that "we have no evidence at this time that any patient or employee information was subject to unauthorized access."

The FBI is investigating the hack, spokesperson Ari Dekofsky told BuzzFeed News, though she declined to provide additional information.

Jim Dalrymple is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.

Contact Jim Dalrymple II at jim.dalrymple@buzzfeed.com.

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