Hospital Pays Bitcoin Ransom to Fix Ransomware

Viruses and malware are issues for the best of us, from forgetting to scan your computer once to being baited in by that interesting link in an email, there are many ways for your system to get infected. Ransomware is one of the nastier pieces of malware, denying you access to your system until you pay the creator of the virus. While the FBI recommend you pay up, does this still apply when you are a hospital?

Earlier in the week, we reported that hackers had hit a Hollywood hospital with ransomware. Hollywood Presbyterian Memorial Medical Center was hit by the ransomware, with an initial request for 9000 bitcoins, coming close to 3.5 million dollars, to get the key required to unlock their systems. While it may not have been the 9000 bitcoins, the Hospital has now announced that they have paid 40 bitcoins to unlock the system.

President and CEO Allen Stefanek claims that the initial price tag of $3.6 million was false and that paying this fee was the “quickest and most efficient way to restore our systems and administrative functions”.

Even with backups and anti-virus software, there will always be some viruses that are able to get into systems, with ransomware benefiting the creators we don’t expect this to be the last time that we see it hitting public services.

Hackers Hit Hollywood Hospital With Ransomware

It seems that no system is beyond the reach of hackers out to line their own pockets. For almost an entire week, the Hollywood Presbyterian Memorial Medical Center has been without its computer systems, due to the system being taken down by a hack that is described as ransomware.

Without their computer systems, the staff at the hospital have been forced to switch back to pen and paper to take patient records and logs. More worrying is the inability to access medical records of patients which could heavily affect the care they receive. Those patients that require specific care, such as lab tests, scans or pharmacy tasks have been temporarily transferred to other nearby facilities as all of these are currently impaired by the hack.

The hack is currently under investigation by both the LAPD and FBI, however, there is yet to be any conclusive evidence about the culprit. The exact extent of the hack is currently unclear, but it is known that the attackers are demanding the sum of 9000 bitcoin, or around $3.5 million for the encryption key to regain access to the hospital systems. President and CEO at the hospital Allen Stefanek has come out stating that the attack was believed to be random and not maliciously directed at the facility.

It is shocking that a facility as important to the lives of many as a hospital can be affected by such a hack, with no backups available or a swifter way of tackling the issue. This could come as a wake-up call to other hospitals to toughen up their cyber security, or they could befall the same fate and put the lives of their patients at risk.

Should We Replace Doctors With Computers?

A new announcement from Jeremy Hunt is yet another cost cutting attempt at trimming down front line services with the aim of saving cash. The health secretary wants to remove more medical decisions from the hands of doctors and therefore let computers and protocols decide aspects of care instead” I like tech, but I would prefer a qualified human doctor and not Microsoft XP handling all aspects of my care if I were to be in hospital. Mr Hunt also states that this implementation has been successful within the US health system and therefore we in the UK should be adopting similar processes.

It would not be an elected politician without a bizarre example, and Mr Hunt gave just that with the notion of production techniques that have been copied from a, (you may think originally from a hospital) no, a “Japanese car company had been copied and applied to healthcare” within a hospital in the US. Not sure human organs and brake pads can be particularly compared when devising healthcare policy. If you’re wondering, it was a hospital in Seattle that copied the production techniques from Toyota and by doing so is ranked among the safest hospitals in the world, read that in a Clarkson voice if you will.

This idea depends on the agenda of execution. Yes we all want safer hospitals and any PROVEN protocol is to be welcomed, but, is this with the aim of cutting both doctors and also staff from wards. The Tory government is aiming to cut billions from spending and is also looking to force through a new working contract for junior doctors that will see penalties for over working doctor’s scrapped and longer working hours implemented. There has been a track record in many sectors of reducing staff in favour of computer IT systems, hopefully staffing levels can be maintained and increased to meet demand, after all, a virtual paperclip cannot treat you in real life.

Thank you independent for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of twitter.

FDA Says Stop Using These IV Drips – You Could Be Hacked

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for checking and maintaining people’s safety in regards to (surprise surprise) the food and drugs they are given. This time they’ve had to go a step further and “encourage” hospitals to replace a piece of tech from their supply lists and floors before it gets hacked.

Hospira’s Symbiq Infusion System (pictured in the centre above) is being recommended for immediate removal from hospitals all over due to a vulnerability in its ability to be controlled remotely. A third party can gain access to the device and control the dosages remotely which are then administrated by computerised pumps.

This discovery was made by the FDA and the Department of Homeland Security’s Industrial Control Systems Cyber Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT for short). First reported on July 21st with a further alert made by the FDA on the 31st July. While they are open to being hacking, there has yet to be a reported instance of it happening.

The hack is done by connecting to the hospital network, allowing Symbiq systems to be remotely controlled. While the unit isn’t sold anymore by Hospira, it is still available from several third-party sellers.

This is the first adventure for the FDA in regards to discussing cybersecurity and the technology that is used to regulate and control food and medicine.

Thank you Yahoo News for the information.

Image courtesy of Biz Journals.

Bacteria Free BlackBerry Arriving At Hospital?

Before Apple and Samsung became kings of the smartphone market, BlackBerry used to be ubiquitous for businesses who desired a convenient way of communicating. But over recent times Blackberry has fallen somewhat from the tree? Bush possibly? Anyway from plummeting sales to whatever the hell Alicia Keys role was, it’s been a turbulent trading period for the smartphone maker.

But BlackBerry is not quite out of ideas with Chief Executive Officer John Chen stating that they may design a bacteria-free smartphone, Yes not quite the showstopper you were all thinking. The concept behind this is BlackBerry envisages a world where Health care professionals will adopt this innovation as a secure device with which to communicate with.

This does not sound important, but a bacteria free smartphone will be of significant benefit once a study by the Journal of Applied Microbiology is taken into account. This study found that about 20 – 30 percent of germs are transferred between a phone and a fingertip. This is a sizeable proportion which could lead to an infection being transported to a patient which in turn could be life threatening

Although this is nothing more than a concept at this stage, BlackBerry is teaming up with ThoughtWire and Cisco Systems to provide nurses and doctors at a Canadian hospital with a portable alerts and messaging system.

This concept does have real world applications if developed, but it remains to be seen if BlackBerry are able to reach former glories in an ever-evolving market.

Thank You to BNN for providing us with this information

Image Courtesy of Daily Mobile

UK’s NHS Breaches Data 6 Times a Day, Including on Social Media

Privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch has conducted research revealing a startling number of sensitive data breaches by the UK’s National Health Service.

On average, data including sensitive medical records, is breached 6 times a day. They discovered that there had been 7,255 reported breaches in the past 3 years.

“The information held in medical records is of huge personal significance and for details to be wrongly disclosed, maliciously accessed or lost is completely unacceptable. With an increasing number of people having access to patients’ information, the threat of data breaches will only get worse.” – Emma Carr, director of Big Brother Watch.

The report revealed the rather frightening fact that there were at least 50 examples of patient information being posted on social networking sites. Another 143 cases involved staff accessing data for “personal reasons”.

Source: The Next Web

U.S. Hospital Target of Biggest Heartbleed Bug Exploit Yet

It has been a while since the Heartbleed bug got publicly know and went trough every media type, about four months and you would expect critical systems to be patched by now. After all, pretty much every manufacturer and software developer rushed out with a fix to their system. It however seems that some government employed backwater system administrator somewhere doesn’t have access to any form of news.

Heartbleed is a major bug in OpenSSL encryption software that is widely used to secure websites and technology products including mobile phones, data centre software and telecommunications equipment. It makes systems vulnerable to data theft by hackers who can attack them without leaving a trace.

Hackers made off with personal data of about 4.5 million patients of the hospital group Community Health Systems Inc, one of the biggest groups in the US. They broke into the system using the Heartbleed bug and made away with their database without leaving a trace. This is the first publicly known large-scale cyber attack using the Heartbleed exploit.

The hackers got into the system by using the Heartbleed bug in equipment made by Juniper Networks Inc, said David Kennedy, chief executive of TrustedSec LLC, Multiple sources familiar with the investigation into the attack had confirmed that Heartbleed had given the hackers access to the system. Community Health Systems said on Monday that the attack had originated in China.

Community Health Systems, said the information stolen included patient names, addresses, birth dates, phone numbers and social security numbers of people who were referred or received services from doctors affiliated with the company over the last five years.

Thank you Reuters for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of Businessinsider.

3-D Printed Casts Set to Speed Up Bone Recovery After Break or Fracture

Since its early days 3D printing has come one heck of a long way, both in terms of its physical abilities, but also the cost of manufacturing along with the cost of purchasing the required hardware. Some examples of where 3D printing has made huge breakthroughs includes NASA utilising it on the space station to print out spare components, manufacturers using it to print bespoke products and in the latest twist we are now seeing it put into the medical environment.

Although it’s still in the prototype stage at this moment in time, the 3D printed cast – which is printed in the exact dimensions of the person needing to where it – has an open frame build, offering better air circulation around the skin and also includes ultrasound emitters to produce low intensity ultrasound pulses known as LIPUS to speed the bone regrowth.

Like many things in their prototype stages the LIPUS technology has seen a mixed bag of results with some seeing more benefit than other and in some cases the benefit was so small it was hard to justify the additional cost of going down this path. That said though, the 3D printed cast has proved to be very popular, with a more fashionable design, lighter build and as the cost of producing 3D printed items comes down, the cost of producing these one-off casts will become more cost-effective.

Until clinical studies have shown that the use of LIPUS is continually more beneficial than using a traditional plaster cast, we will have to sit in expectation. Either way, with this technology not really possible with traditional casts, as soon as we see LIPUS spread out into the wide world we’ll see the sci-fi looking casts become a reality.

Source: IFLS