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LA County Health Department Targeted in Cyberattack for Ransom Scheme

So far, they haven't paid up.

B letter grade, Los Angeles
B letter grade, Los Angeles
Farley Elliott is the Senior Editor at Eater LA and the author of Los Angeles Street Food: A History From Tamaleros to Taco Trucks. He covers restaurants in every form, from breaking news to the culture, people, and history that surrounds LA's dining landscape.

As if things weren’t bad enough over at the Los Angeles County Health Department, it seems some wily hackers managed to hold at least a few of their computers for ransom last week.

In what’s just the latest in a growing number of "ransomware" attacks, the LA Times reports that unknown cyber-assailants took control of computers at the Health Department and demanded a ransom in order for workers to be able to access their files once again. Should they fail to pay, of course, the hackers would threaten to torch their important documents.

Though not as widespread as a similar recent attack at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center (where hospital higher-ups decided to simply pay the $17,000 ransom in Bitcoins), this small-scale issue at the Health Department still raises some serious eyebrows about data security at the county level.

Ultimately the attack seems to have been contained to a handful of computers only, though a spokesman for the county executive office declined to indicate whether it may be part of a larger pattern happening at other county departments as well. So far, the Health Department has declined to pay the ransom, so it’s unclear as to whether the issue has been fully resolved.

Let’s just hope the team can get back to issuing outdated letter grades to restaurants and licensed food trucks soon enough.