Ransom reportedly demanded in cyberattack on England's health-care system

Hands typing on laptop computer
Ransomware takes down hospitals, businesses in at least 2 countries
Author

13 May, 2017

The spokesperson said the attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS, but affects organizations across a range of sectors, but didn't specify which.

Wanna Decryptor, the apparent malware variant hitting NHS computers, was first discovered in the wild in February of this year.

Ransomware is malware that encrypts important files, essentially locking people out of their computers unless they pay up or have their entire system deleted.

Portugal Telecom was hit on Friday by a cyber attack but no services were impacted, a spokeswoman for the company said.

The hackers behind the "ransomware" attack were demanding $300 in electronic currency to release files from encryption, the Mirror reported. Operations were canceled, emergency room services were scaled down, and medical personnel went back to using handwritten notes.

Aatish Pattni from cyber security firm Check Point, said the version of Wanna Decryptor used in the attack was a new piece of malware. Further reports said Global Positioning System were also being targeted.

Hospitals are activating their major incident plans and reportedly shutting down IT systems and internet access while the threat is contained.

A global ransomware attack is holding more than 60,000 computers hostage. "Ambulances are being diverted to neighboring hospitals".

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Microsoft issued a patch for the vulnerability in March, but it would appear it hasn't been rolled out across all organisations. "It suggests that the group is increasing the ransom demands", an analysis by Kaspersky researchers says.

The attack came as several companies in Spain were hit by ransomware attacks.

Dr Malcolm Murphy, technology director, Western Europe at Infoblox, said that attacks such as this demonstrate the risk to public services.

Hospitals in East and North Hertfordshire, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, the university hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust and Blackpool teaching hospital NHS foundation trust have all been affected, the Guardian reported.

A spokeswoman at PAH said: "I can confirm we have not been affected by the cyber attack".

A screen grab of a instant message conversation circulated by one doctor says: "So our hospital is down ..."

The National Cyber Security Center said: "We are aware of cyber incident and we are working with NHS Digital and the National Crime Agency to investigate".

A report issued Wednesday by the European Commission called for greater attention to cyberthreats as the world becomes "more vulnerable to cyberattacks, with security breaches causing significant damage".


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