Hollywood Hospital Falls Victim to Ransomware: What went wrong?

If you didn’t hear about the news last week (LA Times Article), The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Hollywood was forced to pay $17,000 to hackers after all of their data was encrypted and held for ransom. This included very sensitive financial and personal health information. From an experienced IT professional point of view the first question that comes to mind is, what went wrong with their backup and disaster recovery plan?

Ransomware explained

The type of attack used on this hospital is known as ransomware and has been on the rise in the past 2 years. It is typically a virus sent through email, where an unsuspecting user opens an attachment which begins to spread the virus silently. Once the virus has spread throughout the rest of the company network, it suddenly encrypts files. When a user tries to open it they are greeted by a message asking to pay a ransom in exchange for the encryption key.


Why did they pay the Ransom?

Although we ensure we use the most up to date and comprehensive security measures, we too have had to deal with Ransomware. Although it is very important to ensure all pro-active security solutions are in place, you can’t assume they will work 100% of the time. You need a plan B, or a solid backup plan (no pun intended!). In the case of this latest Hospital ransomware attack, it is safe to assume that their backup and DR (disaster recovery) solutions were not properly implemented or managed.

If the hospital had the right solutions in place, they should have been able to restore their data from a secure snapshot stored offsite. Being that they fall under HIPPA guidelines we would assume they would have frequent backups happening throughout the day. If they would had followed this approach they would have reduced their downtime to an hour or two (instead of a week) and not had to pay the ransom.


Is your company prepared?

If you aren’t 100% sure your DR plan is up to par, you should take this opportunity to do something about it. The “it won’t happen to us” philosophy will lead you down the same path as this hospital. The news only covers these stories when they involve a well known corporation or facility such as this hospital, but  many other small-medium businesses are dealing with this exact same hacking scheme.

Check out this earlier blog post where we share the top 10 tips to protect your business: