Hackers demand ransom to release encrypted US medical records

BMJ 2016; 353 doi: (Published 01 April 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;353:i1876
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Hackers have shut down the computers of MedStar, the principal healthcare provider in Washington, DC, and surrounding areas, and are warning that millions of medical records will be lost forever 10 days hence if the healthcare group does not pay a ransom of 45 bitcoins, roughly $19 000 (£13 000; €16 500).

It is the third attack by “ransomware” hackers on US hospitals in recent weeks, and the highly vulnerable industry, known for poor computer security, fears that it could signal a new trend.

Screens went dark at all of MedStar’s 10 hospitals and 250 outpatient clinics throughout Washington, Maryland, and Virginia when the group shut down its own systems in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent …

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