Ransomware campaigns being waged at hospitals across the country have prompted Senator Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, to ask the FBI to explain how its handling a rash of cyberattacks that are affecting health providers from coast to coast.
Ms. Boxer on Friday sent a letter to FBI Director James Comey to express what she said were “grave concerns” regarding ransomware infections befallen by hospitals as of late, including an attack last month that forced computer systems at more than 250 facilities in the Washington region to go offline.
Ransomware is a name applied to malicious software that seizes data from infected computers until a fee is coughed up to cybercriminals, usually in Bitcoin or similar crypto currency that can’t easily be traced. The FBI believes ransomeware cost American companies and citizens at least $24 million in 2015, and attacks waged so far in 2016 suggest hackers are hardly leaving ransomware by the wayside.
The Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles paid cybercriminals nearly $17,000 to regain access to data that was seized during a ransomware attack in February, and doctors and nurses employed by MedStar Health in the Washington, D.C. region resorted to using paper and pen last month when ransomware infected hospital computers and entire systems shut down as a precaution.