Cyber worm attack propels health funding to centre of British election campaign

Angelica Greene
May 19, 2017

A divert remained in place for trauma, stroke and urgent heart attack treatment, where diagnostic services are required, at the Lister Hospital, part of East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust (Midlands & East).

The attack blocks computers and puts up images on victims' screens that demand payment of US$300 in the virtual currency bitcoin, saying: "Ooops, your files have been encrypted!".

The warning was echoed by Britain's National Cyber Security Centre: "As a new working week begins it is likely, in the United Kingdom and elsewhere, that further cases of ransomware may come to light, possibly at a significant scale".

"We haven't ruled out that this is a state attack", said Bossert.

Scores of organizations inside the NHS, which provides free medical care for all and is a source of pride for Britons, were hit by the ransomware on Friday.

Meanwhile, Irish hospitals suspected of being hit by the global cyber attack had been targeted by a different, older virus, health chiefs have revealed.

The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Centre, a non-profit group providing support in computer attacks, said 2,000 computers at 600 locations in Japan were reported affected. "They've complacently dismissed warnings which experts, we now understand, have made in recent weeks".

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The NHS has been declared "open for business" but some hospitals are still suffering disruption caused by the crippling ransomware attack.

Britain plans to spend about 120 billion pounds ($155 billion) on the Department of Health in 2017, according to the King's Fund think tank.

Tehan said that Australia's critical infrastructure had also avoided infection. "I'm anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn on their machines on Monday", he said.

'Because this would be nowhere near the global spread and depth of attack if people had run the updates that Microsoft had provided in March'.

"In particular, making sure that our data is properly backed up and making sure that we are using the software patches, the anti-virus patches, that are sent out regularly by manufacturers".

Security Minister Ben Wallace said the government used to contract for computer services across the entire NHS but that in 2007 - when the Labour Party was in power - that was stopped and left to the local trusts that run hospitals.

"It's important to understand that cyber attacks can be different from other forms of crime in that their sometimes highly technical and anonymous nature means it can take some time to understand how it worked, who was behind it and what the impact is", he told the BBC.

Other reports by GizPress

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