Hackers are using ransomware to attack US hospitals and it’s getting worse

Hospital ransomware attacks

Methodist Hospital, a medical facility located in western Kentuck, was attacked by hackers last week. The facility was yet another victim of hospital-focused attacks that are throwing the medical industry into chaos.

Methodist Hospital was operating “in an internal state of emergency” on Friday, according to its website.

An entire section of its computer network was rendered “useless” during the attack.

The hospital was hit with ransomware, a type of computer virus that encrypts computer files and refuses to return them unless an encryption key is purchased.

Hospitals are particularly susceptible to ransomware because administrators rely heavily on patient files and other data held on their systems.

Cybersecurity firm Trend Micro says, “2016 will be the year of online extortion.”

“No patient data or records were compromised,” Methodist said after the attack.

The ransomware was installed after a message managed to make its way past the hospital’s email spam filter.

Hackers demanded four bitcoins or $1,656 at today’s exchange rate.

Typically ransomware attackers ask for $300, just enough to keep the cost of returning files low.

Methodist Hospital refused to pay and instead shut down the infected part of its network. The hospitals IT team was smart and had backed up all of their files on remote servers, allowing them to recover the affected data.

The hospital is now coordinating with the FBI and local Henderson Police Department.

“Methodist Hospital would like to assure its patients that their information is safe and secure and has not been compromised in any way,” the hospital announced.

A number of US hospitals have been hit by the ransomware attack in recent months.