Of the 48 affected NHS England hospitals, six remain unoperational

Monday, 15 May, 2017

"We are aware of reports of ransomware affecting multiple entities in Europe and Asia and are coordinating with our global cyber partners", DHS spokesperson Scott McConnell told the E-Commerce Times in a statement.

On Friday, Russia's interior and emergencies ministries, as well as its biggest bank, Sberbank, said they were targeted. Two security firms - Kaspersky Lab and Avast - said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack in over 70 countries, although both said the attack had hit Russian Federation the hardest.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a neurology registrar at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, had said an increasing number of hospitals could be shut down by ransomeware attacks in an article on the vulnerability of the NHS network in the "British Medical Journal" on Wednesday, two days before the major cyber hack of the National Health Service (NHS) system on Friday.

"Computer systems which are not updated are vulnerable to such attacks".

The impact of the attacks caused phone lines to go down, appointments to be canceled and patients to be turned away, but there has been no reported evidence of patient data being breached.

Most of the affected hospitals were in England, but several facilities in Scotland also reported being hit.

However, there were infections at individual level, reports our staff correspondent. Hospitals, with their often outdated IT systems and trove of confidential patient data, are a particularly tempting target.

Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan - though exactly which computers in those areas were targeted remains fuzzy. "However, we are very fortunate that this time nothing serious happened", said Sumon.

Hackers deployed "ransomware" Friday to encrypt and block access to content. Money was then demanded by the hackers to unlock it.

As part of its best practices to prevent ransomware attacks, CERT-In has advised users and organisations to maintain an updated antivirus software, regularly check for integrity of the information stored on databases, to not open attachments in unsolicited e-mails, restrict users' ability to install and run unwanted software applications, among various others. The attack affected PCs using Microsoft's Windows operating system.

Finance chiefs from the Group of Seven rich countries will commit on Saturday to join forces to fight the growing threat of global cyber attacks, according to a draft statement of a meeting they are holding in Italy.

Tom Griffiths, who was at Bart's Hospital in London for chemotherapy treatment, said a nurse showed him her computer screen, which carried an image of a padlock.

That low-priced move redirected the attacks to MalwareTech's server, which operates as a "sinkhole" to keep malware from escaping. "The fact is the NHS has fallen victim to this", Rudd said.

Spain, meanwhile, activated a special protocol to protect critical infrastructure in response to the "massive infection" of personal and corporate computers in ransomware attacks.

She said: "If you look at who's been impacted by this virus, it's a huge variety across different industries and across worldwide governments".

In the U.S., FedEx Corp. reported that its Windows computers were "experiencing interference" from malware, but wouldn't say if it had been hit by ransomware.

Spain did not say which companies were affected, but Telefonica, a telecom giant said it had detected an incident which affected some of its employees.

London's Barts Health NHS Trust, the largest trust in the United Kingdom, cancelled all outpatient appointments at its five hospitals today.

Griffiths, who was receiving chemotherapy at Bart's, said several cancer patients had to be sent home from Bart's because their records or bloodwork couldn't be accessed.

Some said the attacks highlighted the need for agencies like the NSA to disclose security flaws so they can be patched. "There's no assurance that even if the government reveals a vulnerability people are going to move quickly enough to make and apply the patch".

"The recent attack is at an unprecedented level and will require a complex worldwide investigation to identify the culprits", said Europol, Europe's policing agency.

And all this may be just a taste of what's coming, another cyber security expert warned. He said the situation was under control.

Microsoft had made fixes for older systems, such as 2001's Windows XP, available only to mostly larger organizations, including Britain's National Health Service, that paid extra for extended technical support.