California hospital computer system taken “hostage”

CBS News

LOS ANGELES — The FBI is leading the investigation of a hostage situation at a California hospital — but it’s not people who were being held, it was the hospital’s computer system.

Inside Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, computer screens were dark since hackers took over the data network almost two weeks ago.  

Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital.

Calls to the hospital’s media line were met with a voicemail recording.

“We want to assure you that patient care at CHA Hollywood Presbyterian has not been compromised, as we continue to address this incident,” the voice recording said.

The attack used what’s known as “ransom-ware” — malicious software that encrypts files which can only be unlocked with a software “key” after a ransom is paid.


In this case, hackers demanded, and the hospital paid an $17,000 in the digital currency bitcoin — which is nearly impossible to trace.

The hospital released a statement Wednesday evening saying, “The amount of ransom requested was 40 Bitcoins, equivalent to approximately $17,000. The malware locks systems by encrypting files and demanding ransom to obtain the decryption key. The quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions was to pay the ransom and obtain the decryption key. In the best interest of restoring normal operations, we did this.”

Since the attack, the medical center staff had resorted to pen and paper and even fax machines for communications.

In the statement, the hospital said the system is back up and running.

“HPMC has restored its electronic medical record system (EMR) on Monday, February 15th. All clinical operations are utilizing the EMR system. All systems currently in use were cleared of the malware and thoroughly tested. We continue to work with our team of experts to understand more about this event,” the statement read.

The FBI confirmed the attack but declined to comment on its investigation. Hollywood Presbyterian has not responded to CBS News’ requests for comment.

6 thoughts on “California hospital computer system taken “hostage”

  1. The NSA can find anyone on the internet, read their every word, know all their thoughts, and what they’re going to think next.

    But no one can find a couple of computer geeks who just shut down a hospital and made off with the ransom money.

    They’ll probably blow all the cash on Hot Pockets and Gummi Worms, and then they’ll shut down the NSA for ransom money, too.

  2. 17,000 dollars? Be on the lookout for any 8 year olds riding around on new bicycles.
    8 year old hacker confesses:
    “I used my dad’s old iPad. It was easy.”

  3. That hospital is like most places I bet they have old computers that don’t get patched often running old software because someone is too cheap to upgrade and no one follows the security rules.Most likely someone was goofing off at work on facebook and followed a link they shouldn’t have and got a worm on the network. Someone with experience could get that ransom-ware out of the system in a few hours but they don’t want to hire an expert so they just complain.

  4. I guess the hospital “employees” now knows what it feels like now to be… “Taken Hostage”!
    Fkem… hope they get the same care.
    Wait until the Mexicans have other foreigners taking their jobs in the service industry.
    Holy shit…. it will be the ” I was here first ” syndrome.
    Well that’s after they take all the jobs back from the Asian/Indonesian slaves.

  5. Reminds me of the weekly power outages we’ve been experiencing for the past 6 months now. Squirrel to blame, car wreck, truck wreck, transformer, wind, we don’t know. Then back to squirrel, car wreck, truck wreck, transformer, wind, we
    don’t know…

Join the Conversation

Your email address will not be published.