Some Eastern European hackers were appalled to learn that American hospitals had become a target for online criminals, according to research by a New York computer security firm.
A wave of attacks known as ransomware began targeting hospitals earlier this year. Hackers infect computer networks with software that encrypts data, making it unavailable to the users, and demand a ransom payment to unlock it.
Researchers at Flashpoint reported Thursday that some respected hackers were dismayed to learn that hospitals had become a target.
"From the bottom of my heart I sincerely wish that the mothers of all ransomware distributors end up in the hospital, and that the computer responsible for the resuscitation machine gets infected," one user of an online crime discussion forum wrote.
"Dirt bags, the move is completely unethical," another user wrote. "Do not touch hospitals!"
But after a hospital in California agreed to pay a ransom, some hackers began advertising ransomware tools based on the news.
"Ransomware is still an ethical dilemma for top-tier cybercriminals… until the right opportunity knocks," the Flashpoint researchers wrote.