United Kingdom spending money to strengthen cyber security of health system: Fallon

Monday, 15 May, 2017

HOSPITAL chiefs failed to adequately invest in computer security despite a wave of attempted cyber attacks on Scottish health boards, an expert warned last night.

The companies and government agencies targeted were diverse. But the NHS said Saturday it does not have any evidence that patient data was breached.

"This kind of ransomware attack has been becoming much more common in recent months so in a way it's perhaps no surprise".

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of ignoring "extensive warning signs" before the unprecedented cyber attack, The Telegraph reports.

Security experts tempered the alarm bells by saying that widespread attacks are tough to pull off.

"So there's a good chance they are going to do it... maybe not this weekend, but quite likely on Monday morning". "But they need to change". It demands users pay United States dollars 300 worth of cryptocurrency Bitcoin to retrieve their files, though it warns that the payment will be raised after a certain amount of time.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit by a "virus attack" and that efforts were underway to destroy it.

Hospitals and doctors' surgeries in parts of England were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments.

Signs outside the unit warned patients not to book in unless they had "a very serious illness or injury".

Hundreds of hospitals and clinics in the British National Health Service were infected Friday, forcing them to send patients to other facilities.

"IT managers need to be extremely aware that new variants of this ransomware attack are being launched nearly hourly, so they can't just check that their computer systems are protected, then relax, assuming everything will stay that way", he said.

The PSNI has said it has been liaising with relevant agencies "to ensure that here in Northern Ireland we are adequately briefed and prepared for the possibility of any potential similar incident". "Everything is fully computerised".

He said many NHS hospitals in Britain use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001, and as government funding for the health service has been squeezed "IT budgets are often one of the first ones to be reduced". In light of Friday's attacks, Microsoft announced that it's making the fixes free to all.

Among those affected by the virus was Nissan UK, but the vehicle manufacturer said there had been no major impact.

NHS Digital said that 4.7% of devices within the NHS use Windows XP, with the figure continuing to decrease.

"For those organisations who have not yet applied the security update, we suggest you immediately deploy Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010".

Forty-five NHS division were affected by the attack. "Perhaps an NHS with no money can't prioritise cyber security!" Instead, the computer was broken down and rebuilt by IT staff.

It said the ransomware called "WannaCry" or "WannaCrypt" encrypts the computer's hard disk drive and then spreads laterally between computers on the same local area network (LAN).

Yesterday the world was hit by the largest cyber attack ever, spreading to 104 countries and locking up the files on at least 45,000 computers.

"Work is ongoing to restore our IT systems, but in the meantime we are unable to proceed with numerous appointments scheduled for the day".

Europol's European Cybercrime Centre said it was working closely with national law enforcement agencies and private security firms to combat the threat and help victims.

Experts said the ransomware appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the US National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes and later leaked to the internet.