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UK's health service hit by ransomware attack
13 May 2017, 01:20 | Audrey Hill
A number of hospitals have been hacked today
East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs four hospitals north of London, said in a statement: "Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust's telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls".
Though the problem has become most famous for the damage it has done to NHS systems, the effects have focused most specifically on Spain and Russian Federation, according to experts.
The BBC broadcast a screen-shot of a message apparently sent to the National Health Service medical facilities demanding payments for unlocking computer files that had been "encrypted" by the attack.
Following the cyber attack, hospitals cancelled appointments and turned away patients, asking them to come only if it was an emergency.
The malware demands that hospitals pay by May 15, or all the encrypted files will be deleted by May 19, according to cybersecurity firm Foursys. People are being advised to avoid going to emergency rooms for the time being.
NHS Digital said systems are believed to be affected by "a ransomware attack" by the malware varient "Wanna Decryptor", but patient data is not thought to have been accessed.
The suspected cyber attack also appears to be affecting some Clinical Commisioning Groups (CCGs), including NHS Sheffield CGG.
Sirer said ransomware has become a lucrative business for criminal syndicates that can make millions of dollars a day from such attacks. Routine appointments had been canceled and ambulances were being diverted to neighboring hospitals.
Screenshots of WannaCry with text in Spanish were also shared online. There are 16 medical facilities affected in the United Kingdom right now, and several large companies in Spain, including Telefonica, a major telecom provider.
Health officials offered no indication of when services might return to normal, or whether patient records could be permanently lost to the attack.
Among the hospitals affected in the United Kingdom is the East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust.
"NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organizations and to recommend appropriate mitigations". The cyberattack, he said, could cause a major backlog in referrals.
A top Russian mobile operator says it has come under cyberattacks that appeared similar to those that have crippled some United Kingdom hospitals.
Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust and Mid Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs hospitals in Wakefield and Dewsbury, said they were not now affected. Attacks of this kind have spiked in the past year, jumping from 340,665 attacks in 2015 to 463,841 in 2016, according to Symantec.
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