Hacking group LulzSec has broken into NHS computer systems and stolen several web administrator passwords in what it claims is an attempt to highlight the department's IT security failings.
The online collective, which was responsible for hacking Japanese electronics firms Sony and Nintendo, as well as US broadcaster PBS, revealed the NHS attack in an email posted online.
"While you aren't considered an enemy - your work is of course brilliant - we did stumble upon several of your admin passwords," the email read. "We mean you no harm and only want to help you fix your tech issues."
The group said on its official Twitter feed that it stole the admin passwords "months ago" and only now had decided to inform the NHS.
"We never planned to exploit those passwords. We sit on admin passwords for many things. It's kind of like a lulz collection," the group wrote.
While LulzSec in this instance does not appear to have any malicious intent, it will be an embarrassment for the NHS, which holds millions of sensitive patient records on its IT systems.
Paul Vlissidis, technical director at penetration testing firm NGS Secure, suggested that the hack should "act as a major warning to the NHS".
"As a result, the NHS should be doing a thorough assessment of its network security," he added.
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