Tag Archives: Hospital

Hackers demand ransom payment from Kansas Heart Hospital for files

WICHITA, Kan. A hospital held hostage by hackers and denied access to its files until it pays a ransom. It’s a crime that’s been reported across the country, and now it’s happened in Wichita.

It’s called “ransomware” – hackers hijack your computer and hold the data until you pay up.

The Kansas Heart Hospital is the latest victim of this attack.

The hospital’s president, Dr. Greg Duick, says the hackers never got access to patient information, but the attack did cause problems.

“Kansas Heart Hospital had a cyber attack occur late Wednesday evening,” Duick said. “We suspect, as attacks other parts of the country, this was an offshore operation,” he said.

Duick says hackers holding hospital files hostage is very common.

“Upwards of 45% of hospitals have received some kind of cyber attack. And multiple hospitals had additional attacks,” he said.

About 9pm Wednesday, a hospital employee lost access to files.

“It would be like you’re working on your computer and all of a sudden, your computer says, sorry can’t help you anymore,” Duick said. “It became widespread throughout the institution.”

Hackers got into the system, and locked up the files, refusing to give back access unless the hospital paid up.

“I’m not at liberty because it’s an ongoing investigation, to say the actual exact amount. A small amount was made,” Duick said.

But even after the hospital paid, the hackers didn’t return full access to the files. Instead, they demanded another ransom. The hospital says, it will not pay again.

“The policy of the Kansas Heart Hospital in conjunction with our consultants, felt no longer was this a wise maneuver or strategy,” Durick said.

The hospital was aware that an attack like this might happen, and it did have a plan

“That plan went into immediate action. I think it helped in minimizing the amount of damage the encrypted agent could do,” Durick said.

“The patient information never was jeopardized and we took measures to make sure it wouldn’t be,” he said.

Durik also says the attack never impacted patient treatment and will help the hospital strengthen its response to future hackers.

Ransomware is so common that many hospitals, Kansas Heart, have insurance to help cover costs of cyber extortion.

The hospital is working with it’s IT team and security experts restore the rest of the system.

Hospitals have become a favorite target of the ransomware scam. Earlier this year 10 Medstar facilities in the Washington region were part of a cyber attack that prompted the health care provider to shut down it’s computer system.

Also in February a California hospital paid $17,000 in ransom to regain access to its medical records.




Hackers Are Holding an LA Hospital’s Computers Hostage


Ransomware attacks, in which hackers lock your computer or keyboard until you pay a ransom, are on the rise. The latest notable ransomware victim is Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, whose computers have been offline for over a week. The computers will come back online, the hackers reportedly say, in exchange for $3.4 million, paid in bitcoin.

The Hack

The incident, first reported by a local NBC affiliate, affects the Los Angeles hospital’s computer systems, including those needed for lab work, pharmaceutical orders, and even the emergency room.

While the hospital’s spokesperson was unavailable to comment, HPMC president and CEO Allen Stefanek told KNBC that it was “clearly not a malicious attack; it was just a random attack.” It’s not clear what he means, though; a hospital in a wealthy neighborhood seems unlikely to be a random target, especially for such a large sum.

As WIRED explained last fall, while ransomware has been around for over a decade, hackers have been embracing increasingly sophisticated methods. In the past, ransomware could only lock down a target’s keyboard and computer; now, hackers can encrypt an infected system’s files with a private key known only to the attacker. That may be what has happened here, according to anonymous hospital sources who told NBC4 that the hackers offered a “key” in exchange for the ransom money. The hospital has yet to officially detail the attack.

Who’s Affected

Stefanek told NBC4 that patient care hasn’t suffered, although some 911 patients have been sent to other nearby hospitals. Meanwhile, it appears to mostly add up to a headache for those in the HPMC system because hospital staff have had to write all documentation out by hand for the last week. Some patients, meanwhile, need to drive to more remote hospitals for medical tests that HPMC cannot offer without a functioning network.

The fallout appears limited to this one hospital, though, and even within its walls the impact seems annoying, but not crippling. HPMC says it’s working with the FBI, LAPD, and computer forensics experts to recover its systems.

How Bad Is It?

Given the degree of things that could potentially go wrong at the intersection of hospitals and hackers, this isn’t so terrible. But in terms of the scale of the ransomware, it’s about as as bad as it gets. Symantec recently pegged the total amount of ransomware paid out in any given year at $5 million. This single incident asks for well over half that amount.

The bigger impact may not be clear until after the incident is resolved. If the hospital ends up paying out, it could inspire copycat attacks. If not, and the hackers are identified, it could act as a deterrent. Either way, for now it shows that no target is off limits for ransomware, nor is any sum.