Led 14

Pay Up or Else! Indiana Hospital Latest Victim of Ransomware Attack

· January 14, 2018 · 7:15 am

Hancock Regional Hospital in Indiana is the latest victim of a ransomware attack by hackers who are demanding a payment in bitcoins.


Technology is definitely a two-edged blade. The lightning-fast speed offered by the internet allows for people to connect instantly with each other from all over the world. Movies can be streamed, video conferences attended, and online games played due to the innovations made in tech over the last twenty years. On the flip side, such connectivity also allows criminals to target individuals and businesses from anywhere in the world just by the use of some malicious code. The latest example of this is a hospital in Indiana that has suffered a ransomware attack.

Hospital Held Hostage

Hackers making ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly commonplace. Sadly, even hospitals are now being targeted by criminals. Hancock Regional Hospital, located in Indiana, revealed that they had been attacked last Thursday evening.

Hospital employees were aware of the attack immediately. However, hackers were able to affect the hospital’s internal operating systems, email system, and electronic health records. Hospital officials stress that no patient information was compromised. The hackers demanded a sum of bitcoins to release the systems, but the hospital has refused to pay. (The total amount of the demanded ransom has not been released.)

Using Pen and Paper

The hospital initially had an IT incident response company look into the matter, but it turns out the attack was beyond their scope. Now the FBI has been called in.

Fortunately, the hospital is still able to function despite the ransomware attack. However, they are now forced to keep pen and paper records.

The official statement from Hancock Regional Hospital about the hacking attack states:

Hancock Regional Hospital has been the victim of a criminal act by an unknown party that attempted to shut down out operations via our information systems by locking our computer network and demanding payment for a digital key to unlock it. Unfortunately this sort of behavior is widespread in the world today, and we had the misfortune to be next on the list. We are working closely with an IT incident response company and national law enforcement. At this time, we are deep into the analysis of the situation and see no indication that patient records have been removed from our network. In addition to excellent performance by our IT Department, our clinical teams have performed exceptionally well, and patient care has not been compromised. Our doors are open at Hancock Regional Hospital.

A Growing Problem

Hancock Regional Hospital is the latest in a long line of businesses and entities that have suffered a ransomware attack. Credit agency Equifax was hit with a $2.3 ransom demand back in September. Then the Sacramento Regional Transit system was attacked in November, with the hackers demanding a single bitcoin in ransom. Last December saw the county government of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, having their server files held for a 2 bitcoin ransom.

It’s a given that ransomware attacks are going to continue. The fact that every government agency, business, and health care facility are all connected online provides an abundance of victims that hackers can target, no matter where they’re located in the world.

Do you think the hospital should pay the ransomware demand? Will such attacks increase in frequency in the near future? Let us know what you think in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Pxhere, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Pro 06

Hackers Hit North Carolina County Government and Demand Two Bitcoin Ransom

· December 6, 2017 · 4:00 am

The county government of Mecklenburg, North Carolina, has been hacked, leaving their server files being held for a ransom of 2 bitcoins.


One of the growing problems for businesses and governments today is having their electronic files hacked and held for ransom. Last month, computer hackers targeted the Sacramento Regional Transit system, resulting in 30 million files being deleted. The ransom price demanded by the hackers for that attack was a single bitcoin. Now that ransom price is being doubled as hackers have hit the Mecklenburg, North Carolina county government and are demanding 2 bitcoins.

Don’t Open That Attachment!

County Manager Dena Diorio said that the hackers got into the county’s system when an employee clicked on an email attachment they shouldn’t have. (It’s amazing in this day and age that people still click on strange email attachments.) Once the click took place, spyware and a worm were unleashed into the system, freezing all of the electronic files.

Diorio told county commissioners in a meeting that the files were being held for ransom as the hackers were demanding 2 bitcoins, which is now worth almost $25,000 (at the time of this article’s writing). The deadline for paying the ransom is 1pm EST today.

Dena Diorio told reporters that the county was considering paying the ransom, but she did express some concerns over doing so, stating:

There’s a risk you don’t get the decryption key and don’t get your files back. There’s also the chance if they think you’ll pay, they may try to get you to come back again.

Is It Cheaper to Pay the Ransom?

Local governments and businesses do find themselves in a quandary when targeted by hackers. Is it actually cheaper to pay the hackers off to once again have access to critical files? A third-party group could restore said files, but using them could cost more than what the hackers were demanding. Of course, as Diorio mentioned above, paying off a hacker could embolden them to attack you again.

This difficult decision is summed up by Diorio when she said:

We need to determine how much it would cost (to pay) versus fixing it on our own. There are a lot of places that pay because it’s cheaper.

The short deadline is obviously putting pressure on the country commissioners to capitulate to the hackers. As of now, the county is switching to paper records for their employees today.

As for the hacking attack, County Manager Dena Diorio summed it up by saying:

I don’t think we were targeted. I don’t think we were at fault. There have been many, many institutions that have been breached. I think we do everything we can to keep our firewall secure.

Do you think Mecklenburg, North Carolina should pay the ransom of 2 bitcoins or not? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Wikipedia and Pixabay.

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