Bitcoin RansomwareTargets LA


Ransomware remains one of the most worrying threats to IT infrastructure in this day and age. Hackers are not worried about who they target with this malware, as long as there is a monetary gain on the horizon. The Los Angeles County health department is one of the latest targets in a major ransomware attack. This news comes on the heels of the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center facing a similar threat, forcing them to pay US$17,000 in Bitcoin to have access restored.

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Los Angeles County Health Department Attack

Bitcoinist_Ransomware LA County Health Department

While this ransomware attack against the Los Angeles County Health Department is not on a scale of the same level as the Presbyterian Medical Center, the threat is still a big cause for concern. Ransomware encrypts files stored on computers and servers, preventing users from accessing the data they need at that time. The only way to bypass this encryption is by paying a fee in Bitcoin.

The initial discovery of this ransomware attack happened on Wednesday, as remnants of this malware were discovered on no less than five different computers. However, no reports have been made about any ransomware preventing staff from completing day-to-day operations, and no money has changed hands by the look of things.

Los Angeles County Health Department officials reported this incident to local law enforcement, as well as the county’s chief information office. No further details were provided to the media at the time of publication, other than reinforcing the statement no Bitcoin ransom had been paid, nor will they ever do so if the problem arises.

One of the main questions is whether or not other Los Angeles County departments were targeted with ransomware over the past few weeks. County spokesman David Sommers did not respond to the question when LA Times asked him about it. However, he did disclose how IT professionals are working hard to prevent any cyber attack from taking place.

The healthcare industry seems to be a new favorite target for hackers looking to spread their malware.Keeping in mind how patient records and files will need to be available to access at any given time, removing a ransomware infection becomes too costly and time-consuming. This is part of the reason the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid the US$17,000 fee, as they could not risk facing more delays without a guaranteed solution to the problem.

Ransomware Becomes Far Too Common

Bitcoinist_Ransomware LA County Health Department Bitcoin

While some people might feel ransomware is becoming the next buzzword in the world of cyber attacks, there is a positive side to this number of attacks as well. The more common ransomware becomes, the easier it is for security experts to stay one step ahead of the risk and prevent these attacks from successfully infecting computers.

It is always a good practice to have proper computer security precautions in place to avoid the risk of a ransomware infection. In the case of the Los Angeles County Health Department, staff has limited to no access to the county’s data, which may have prevented a lot of damage.

What are your thoughts on the number of ransomware attacks? Are hackers becoming more sophisticated, or have security experts caught up with this threat? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: LA Times

Images courtesy of Los Angeles County Health Department, Shutterstock

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