Hackers have targeted a Southern California hospital with malware and have demanded it pay $3.6 million for the restoration of its system.
On Friday, staff at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center began noticing issues related to the hospital's IT system.
An unnamed doctor who works at Hollywood Presbyterian told NBC Los Angeles that a hack was to blame for the system interruptions.
"I was told that the hackers demanded 9,000 Bitcoin be electronically sent to them, and in exchange, the hackers would send back the key codes to restore the system," he said.
The hospital has confirmed the hack, reports the BBC. Since then, it has been careful to reassure patients that their medical records are safe and that the medical center was not specifically targeted in the attack.
"It was not a [targeted] malicious attack, it was a random attack," said Allen Stefanek, chief executive of the hospital, as quoted by The Register.
Randomness has not made the attack any less severe, however.
According to the anonymous doctor, the hospital's computer system has been locked up for more than a week. This has left hospital staff unable to access patients' computer records as well as several departments, including oncology and radiology, unable to function.
Not all is lost. The Medical Quack writes that hospital personnel are attempting to work around those limitations by communicating via fax lines and logging patients' registrations on paper. But such inconveniences have prevented many out-patients from receiving treatment. Meanwhile, some in-patients are being transferred to other hospitals.
At this time, it is unclear why the ransom payment is so much higher than the usual ransomware demands, especially when this type of malware is generally spread via phishing emails to individual victims, notes ZDNet. The reputation of the hospital and the value of the encrypted data could ultimately be to blame.
The FBI, the Los Angeles Police Department, and computer forensics experts are currently investigating the incident.
Hollywood Presbyterian still has yet to comment on how the attack initially occurred, what type of malware was involved, and how far the attack has spread.