The Ottawa Hospital has confirmed that four computers in its network of 9,800 were hit with ransomware last week which encrypted the information on those machines making it unaccessible to hospital administrators.
“No patient information was affected. The malware locked down the files and the hospital responded by wiping the drives,” said Kate Eggins a spokeswoman for the hospital. “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 infection on the Ottawa Hospital systems comes at a time when ransomware is surging to a fever pitch, attacking personal home computers and businesses alike. Ransomware, which is a virus and not an attempt to hack a computer system, starts by tricking a computer user to install malicious software on a personal or work computer.
The dangerous software usually comes in the form of a spam email, which is being sent in the form of an invoice, a website or video.
When the computer user opens the attachment, the software then gets to work encrypting all of the data on the user’s computer. By encrypting the data it locks out the user, making the data inaccessible to the computer user. In order to regain access to the files on the computer, the user is forced to pay a ransom. The ransom is usually requested in Bitcoin, which cannot be traced. However, there is no guarantee that paying the ransom will see the data on the machine unlocked.
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