The growing concern with ransomware attacks at hospitals is provisionally a healthcare IT problem, but as the number of such attacks grows, it will quickly become a financial one as well.
Just a single ransom sum has been disclosed: Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid the equivalent of about $17,000 in bitcoin to free up its computer systems last month.
That may not have been a wise move: Steve King, chief operating officer with Netswitch Technology Management, a Northern California consulting firm that focuses on healthcare IT and security issues, told me last month that paying ransoms would set a precedent that would embolden hackers looking for paydays.
“The more they comply with these ransom demands, the more frequently we’re going to get these kinds of attacks,” King told me. He suggested it might be preferable for some hospitals to simply replace their existing IT systems than succumb to ransoms.