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Police departments, government offices, corporations, and countless individuals have been victims of malicious software that encrypts data and demands payment for its return. But a spate of recent ransomware infections at hospitals has some experts worried that patient care could suffer.

“The big difference with health care is that the consequences are greater,” says Kevin Fu, an associate professor at the University of Michigan who studies computer security issues in hospitals. “You can lose your e-mail and that’s annoying, but patient records are needed in order to treat patients.”
After ransomware struck Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital in Los Angeles in February, the hospital’s central medical records system was largely unusable for 10 days, and some patients had to be transported to other hospitals. A hospital in Germany that had medical records locked up by ransomware canceled some high-risk surgeries for safety reasons.

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Image: By Christiaan Colen from The Hague, Netherlands – Cryptolocker ransomware, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47435124

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MIT Technology Review

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