Earlier this week, hackers disabled computer systems at MedStar hospitals, the second largest health care provider in Maryland.
MedStar doctors and patients were impacted by the hack, which made it impossible in some cases to set up appointments, access medical records, or fill prescriptions. The motive appears to be a simple one: The hackers want money. And cold, hard cash isn’t good enough; according to the Baltimore Sun, the hackers are insisting on being paid in BitCoins, the cryptocurrency that’s nearly impossible to trace. They’re putting the price at 3 BitCoins (about $1250) per computer, or 45 BitCoins ($18,500) to unlock the whole system.
Hospitals are particularly vulnerable to such ransomware attacks, because they rely on quick access to up-to-date information; even if lives aren’t at stake, people’s health and well-being is. In many cases, the hospitals just opt to pay up in order to make the problem go away–though as of yet, MedStar has not done so.
Meanwhile, the hospital chain has managed to get many of its systems back online. And hospital staffers have been reacquainting themselves with their pre-computer systems. “The fax machines have been going off the hook,” a doctor told the Sun.
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