NJ Spine Center saw no other option but to pay ransom

Oof. This notification from the New Jersey Spine Center, sent to patients on September 22, describes a real disaster where not only essential patient files and credit card information were locked up, but their most recent backup was too.  No wonder they paid the ransom.

On July 27, 2016, our computer systems were attacked by a malware ransom virus called “CryptoWall.” The malware was detected by our virus protection software but unfortunately not until after our electronic patient records were encrypted. The virus encrypted, thereby rendering unusable, all of our electronic medical record files that contained all of the clinical information on our patients such as procedures, office notes, reports, etc. In addition to the medical information, the records contained demographic information such as date of birth, address, and in some cases SSN, credit card and account information. The virus also encrypted our most recent system backup and even disabled our phone system. The individuals demanded that we pay a monetary ransom in order to receive an encryption key to unlock the files. Seeing no other option, we elected to pay the ransom to gain access to the records. We notified the FBI and local authorities regarding the incident. Unfortunately, these individuals often operate outside of the United States, making detection, identification and prosecution nearly impossible.

The virus likely utilized a list of stolen passwords and ran an automated program that attempted access until a correct match was found.

Read the full letter here.  Their press release, posted to their site, provides a lot less detail and doesn’t mention paying ransom, but it does add one detail: they regained access to their files on August 1. They do not mention how much the ransom was.

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