Hancock Regional Hospital, just east of Indiana, has become the latest victim of a Bitcoin cyber-attack.
New Attack Variants in the Digital Era
According to local reporters in the county, Hancock Regional Hospital was a victim of a computer systems hack on January 12, 2018. The unknown party of attackers demanded a ransom of an undisclosed amount in bitcoin, which the hospital has since refused to pay.
The attempt to bring all operations to a halt was mostly unsuccessful, as patient care and patient information were not compromised. According to the hospital, only its email system, internal operating system, and electronic health records were affected.
“Hancock Regional Hospital has been the victim of a criminal act by an unknown party that attempted to shut down our operations via our information systems by locking our computer network and demanding payment for a digital key to unlock it.”
In a recent statement, a spokesperson of the hospital also touched on the importance of cybersecurity in the modern era:
“Unfortunately, this sort of behavior is widespread in the world today, and we had the misfortune to be next on the list. We are working closely with an IT incident response company and national law enforcement. At this time, we are deep into the analysis of the situation and see no indication that patient records have been removed from our network. In addition to excellent performance by our IT Department, our clinical teams have performed exceptionally well, and patient care has not been compromised. Our doors are open at Hancock Regional Hospital.”
As confirmed in the statement, the hospital’s first move was to seek assistance from its internal IT department, whose members quickly surmised that the situation was beyond their control. Following which, the hospital approached the FBI for assistance in resolving the issue. At the time of writing, it appears that no major breaks have been made, with the hospital still running operations on pen and paper as an interim measure.
Ransomware and Crypto Attacks
As alluded to by the hospital, Bitcoin hacks have become increasingly common. South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Youbit was recently forced to shut down operations in December 2017, after a second hack rendered the platform unable to continue trading. The first hack took place in April 2017, wherein the exchange was robbed of 4,000 Bitcoins. The second hack proved to be fatal, resulting in a reported loss of 17 percent of all funds stored on the site.
Bitfinex was another cryptocurrency exchange to fall prey to a hack, having experienced parallel misfortune in August of 2016. In that event, Bitfinex was unjustly relieved of close to $70 million. The generalized loss amongst all users was reportedly 36 percent, which the exchange moved to compensate through its newly-created BFX tokens.
Although Bitcoin is not anonymous as all transactions are stored on the blockchain, hackers still appear to find methods of cashing out their ill-gotten gains. Furthermore, according to Australia’s leading news channel, we are all at risk of Bitcoin hacking – regardless of whether we own any of the cryptocurrency of not.