Thursday, 05 December, 2019

English hospitals divert ambulances after 'ransomware' cyber attack

Rosalie Gross | 13 May, 2017, 10:30

Awais Rashid, a professor of software engineering at Lancaster University, said "the key question" to consider is how an attack such as Friday's could originate "from a noncritical system such as email" and then spread to other systems.

"Digital and the National Crime Agency to investigate", it said in a statement.

England said they are "aware of the issue and are looking into it".

"Scottish Government health officials are now working closely with affected boards to assess the extent of the problem, and take steps to isolate affected systems, which have been affected by a Ransomware cyber-attack of the kind which has also affected health trusts in NHS England".

Earlier versions of the same ransomware made no effort to steal data, instead just making it unusable, suggesting the latest attack is simply for profit. The attacks use a malware called Wanna Decryptor, also known as WannaCry.

England's NHS says at least 16 of its organizations were hit by the ransomware.

Patients at both the Cumberland Infirmary in Carlisle and the West Cumberland Hospital in Whitehaven are being asked to only attend accident and emergency departments unless it is absolutely necessary.

The NHS was considered in 2015 to be one of the biggest organisations in the world, employing around 150,000 hospital doctors and 315,000 nurses and thousands more in community health services.

8 MI teams earn flawless multi-year scores — April
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West Suffolk Hospital had to shut down its incoming email service this afternoon to defend itself against an global cyber-attack which has hit computer systems across the NHS.

One junior doctor, who wished to remain anonymous, told Sky News the hackers had "stopped access to everything, including patients' medical records" at their hospital and warned: "It could be potentially life-threatening".

"At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed", officials said in a statement.

The NHS said it was not attacked specifically, and the attack is "affecting organizations from across a range of sectors".

The cyber attacks prompted other Spanish firms such as power company Iberdrola and utility Gas Natural to take preventive measures.

The screenshot, posted on Twitter, shows a message stating "oops, your files have been encrypted" and demands a payment of $300 in bitcoins. First discovered in February of this year, the attack has been wreaking havoc on a number of computer systems recently.

Hospital trusts across England and Scotland have admitted they've been caught up in the attack, with appointments cancelled, phone lines down and ambulances divereted. That security update patches a server message block, or SMB, server vulnerability present in every Windows operating system from XP to Server 2008 R2, and which appears to have been used by the Equation Group to gain access to targeted networks, at which point additional attack tools could be deployed.

Two employees at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, which is part of Barts Health said all the computers in the hospital had been turned off.

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