This week, Ottawa Hospital reported that its computer network was infected with ransomware. Four of the hospital’s 9,800 virtual machines were affected.
According to the CBC News, the computers were struck by a virus which has encrypted their files and data. The hospital’s administrators were forced to pay $17,000 in Bitcoin to unlock the information, though it is believed that no patient data was compromised.
“The malware locked down the files and the hospital responded by wiping the drives,” said the spokeswoman for the hospital Kate Eggins. “We are confident we have appropriate safeguards in place to protect patient information and continue to look for ways to increase security. We would like to reiterate that no patient information was obtained through the attempt.”
The Ottawa Hospital’s computers were infected at a time when Ransomware is on the rise, typically spread through malicious malware sent via spam emails.
This latest attack by cyber criminals comes only a month after a similar incident happened at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center, located in Los Angeles. In that case, criminals demanded 9,000 Bitcoins (which is approximately $3.6 million) to unlock the infected machines.
At the same time, a new ransomware dubbed KeRanger was said to be infecting Apple OS X last week, spread via the BitTorrent app Transmission.
The latest trends report by ESET states that Ransomware attacks are only likely to increase in 2016. The popularity of these types malicious software have grown because they offer hackers the opportunity to make “significant profits”, while the growth in the number of internet-connected devices means a greater variety of devices are open to attack.
Based on all their analysis, the security researchers advise users to keep their machines protected against malware at all times, especially when they receive emails from unknown sources.