Major Cyber-Attack Hits NHS – Hackers Demand Ransom

Posted on May 13, 2017 at 3:49 AM

Major Cyber-Attack Hits NHS – Hackers Demand Ransom

The worldwide cyber-attack has crippled NHS in large areas of the country, and many hospitals have been turned away. Hospitals in the East, West, London, and North Midlands have all been attacked. Operations are being canceled by the minute, and the ransomware is holding files while the hackers demand payment.

This is just one part of a global attack of ransomware that somehow manages to hit government organizations and companies in seven countries, at least. Most hospitals have lost both their computers, as well as phone lines, and are only accepting emergency patients. Everyone else is sent elsewhere. Some hospitals have even told the patients not to come unless their procedures are urgent.

Among other victims of the attack are Spanish telecoms, as well as Russian police forces. In all of those cases, a virus has found its way into organization’s computers and has managed to encrypt the content. From then on, the organization in question is completely blocked, unless they agree to pay the ransom in Bitcoins. Dozens of UK’s hospitals are reporting major problems, but the exact scale of the problems isn’t yet known.

Most of the hospitals are reporting almost complete IT failures, which means, in some cases, that their phones and computers are completely off limits. Some places, like Lister Hospital from Stevenage, have disabled their phone and computer systems completely so that they could avoid an attack.

Patients are constantly being told not to come unless they have urgent operations, and all of the IT problems are connected to the cyber-attacks, while all of the non-urgent activities are postponed.

National resilience teams have been invited to a meeting after the health officials have declared this a major incident. NHS Digital states that the reported issues are believed to be ransomware. Reports of affected trusts include North and East Hertfordshire, Morecambe Bay hospitals, North Cumbria, Blackpool, as well as Barts Health located in London. Several GP surgeries have said that they cannot use their systems, and are therefore disabled.

Health Service Journal was informed by one of the sources that a malware attack occurred around 1.30pm and that this attack was to be blamed for the current situation. Trusts’ computer systems are all completely shut down. All of the affected services include picture archiving communication systems for x-ray images, bleep and phone systems, patient administration systems, as well as pathology test results.

The said source also added that delays are inevitable and that all of the hospitals’ focus will be on the sickest of patients. In situations like this, only the support of the local trusts can help, and if this situation is spread everywhere, not even that will be an option anymore.

NHS has confirmed to be under attack around 4:24 pm. Doctors across the country have received a message saying that files are held for ransom. The representative of NHS hospital bosses has said that trusts need to support each other through this crisis. In the meanwhile, hackers demand $300 (£233) if the hospitals want access to their files back. Of course, they demand payment in Bitcoin which is equivalent to £1,381.

The case is currently being investigated by the National Cyber Security Centre. It would seem that the NHS’s security wasn’t that good to begin with, which is both unprecedented and shocking, and proves just how important cyber security can really be. Many have taken warnings about ransomware and leaky security quite lightly, and now that it’s here, the problem only seems to grow bigger. As the situation progressed, the list of affected hospitals grew longer and longer. After a while, the new message was received from the hackers, in which they claimed that the ransom will be doubled if not paid within 3 days.

In the meantime, similar ransom messages were displayed in tweets by users living in Milan, which makes this more than just a British problem. Experts say that the only two options for the hospitals now are to either recover the info from one of the previous back-ups or to pay the ransom. Neither of the options is guaranteed to return the full data. The ransomware in question was identified as WannaCry ransomware, and it’s spreading rapidly across the entire Europe and even the rest of the world.

It was reported that the Spanish companies were hit hard by the attack as well. This now concerns more than just hospitals, and it also includes firms like Telefónica as well.

Around 6:34 pm, a tweet from East Kent Hospitals suggested that the ransomware is trying to infiltrate via emails that contain ‘Clinical Results’ in their subjects. The list of hacked companies, firms, and hospitals has continued to grow despite this, and FedEx has fallen under the ransomware as well. The attack has gone worldwide. There’s no telling who else is going to fall under the attack, nor how is this going to end. For now, all that can be done is to spread the awareness of every new piece of information and help each other in any way possible.


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