Posted on December 26, 2019 at 3:53 PM
Scotland’s National Health Service, or NHS, seems to be quite the desirable target for hackers all across the globe, North Korea included. For the past five years, the group has had to defend itself against thousands of daily hack attempts, with only a fraction proving successful in its efforts.
A Disheartening Revelation
Through the Scottish Conservatives having gained access to the exact numbers by way of Freedom of Information, it’s been made clear how relentless the assault was for the Scottish medical service provider. The total amount of times that the health boards were successfully infiltrated totaled up to 117 separate instances. The Scottish Conservatives have no idea what the full impact of these infiltrations was to the Scottish public.
Somewhat incredibly, the NHS Borders group stated that an attempt was made from none other than North Korea, back in 2017. The attack was sadly successful, most likely due to abundant resources given to state-sanctioned hacking groups.
The health boards of Scotland have pointed out literal thousands of daily hack attempts that have started up since 2014. Many different sources are attributed to these attacks, with criminals and foreign powers being the majority of it.
The Given Facts
Of these attacks, several vital groups fell victim to it: GP surgeries, hospitals, and health centers. An important thing to know is that it’s thought that patient care during these attacks remained wholly unaffected. A lucky break, if there ever was one.
One of the most frequently breached boards, NHS Fife, fell victim to a total of 47 successful attacks. The “winner” in this unfortunate leaderboard has to be NHS Lanarkshire, however, sporting a disheartening 62 successful breaches. NHS Lanarkshire was forced to contact the police forces to help combat the rampant amount of attacks.
In the Western Isles, the infamous Locky malware struck, getting behind the firewalls of the Western Isles Hospital. Coupled with that, the Wannacry global ransomware attacks had its share in the breaches as well. The malware, built to ransom date for Bitcoin payments, has impacted health boards all across the country.
A Sea Of Attacks
While the amount of data breaches seems concerning, and even that NHS Scotland is inadequate in defense, it’s essential to know that health boards have been attacked thousands of times every day. Every day, the system prevents thousands of cyberattacks, with only the most successful achieving the breaches. This, coupled with backup systems put in place, ensures that no sensitive data gets lost or compromised within these breaches.
Maurice Golden, the Chief Whip of the Scottish Conservatives, has stated that this information is quite the revelation. He says that it shows that even Scotland’s NHS isn’t exempt from global hacking groups and their agendas.
Luckily, Golden points out, the NHS Scotland’s IT team seems to be quite capable of holding off the horde of attacks flowing in by the day. Golden described them as well equipped and took the time to give them credit for keeping the country’s personal information safe.
Even with its relative successes, Golden points out that there was never any room for complacency. He cites hackers improving their skills and malware all across the world, becoming more and more adept at breaching these systems.
While the FOI revealed a staggering 117 breaches of the NHS system since 2014, about 20 breaches a year on average, the number could be larger. Simply put, there were several health boards that didn’t hold the necessary data to accurately determine if it was breached or not.
NHS Grampian has the individual title of having suffered no breach since the year of 2014, as given to the press by way of a spokesman. The spokesman stated that there was no breach, but there was a single instance of malware attack, the Wannacry ransomware. It was discovered on a single server and five personal computers back in 2017. The spokesman stated that there was no data loss or compromised during this attack.