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Hackers hold thousands of hospital records hostage using ransomware

It's the moment we've all feared. Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles has confirmed that it's the victim of a ransomware attack and that its computer files, including patient records, are completely inaccessible. The FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department and cybersecurity experts are investigating.

The hackers are demanding $3.6 million to give Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center access to its own computer system. The hackers said they would also accept 9,000 bitcoins (a bitcoin is an untraceable digital currency).

Meanwhile, the hospital's computer system has been down for more than a week, according to multiple reports, with employees having to do everything by hand. Many patients are being told to go to other hospitals, and Hollywood Presbyterian's radiation and oncology departments are temporarily closed.

The hospital has not said how this ransomware attack occurred. However, it is likely that an employee clicked on a malware link in an email, or opened a malicious attachment. Phishing scams like these are how ransomware typically attacks home computer as well, including yours.

The scam might be an email with the logo, letterhead and mailing address of a well-known company, or hospital. If you click on a link in their email, the hackers will infect your computer with malware, like Cryptolocker.

They'll take over your computer, and often threaten to blackmail you, unless you pay them ransom. Then you have to decide how much your files, whether they're irreplaceable photos or your business records, are worth.

In fact, take a second and really think about how much you'd be willing to pay to get your files back. That's how much you should be willing to pay for an Internet security suite that keeps ransomware hackers out of your devices, so your ID, financial information and medical records are safe.

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