A concerted, nationwide ransomware campaign targeting the NHS has taken down IT systems in hospitals and GP surgeries across the UK today.
Widespread reports indicate that hospitals across the country have been affected, while East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust issued a statement earlier today admitting that it had been severely affected and urged people not to attend A&E.
The Trust said that on discovering the problem it "acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down". This meant that even the Trust's telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls, while the press team has had to use iPads and remote email addresses to relay this information to the media.
In the statement, the Trust said:
"To ensure all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the Trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the Trust's hospitals continued to receive the care they need".
In the meantime, the Trust's IT specialists are said to be working to resolve the problem "as quickly as possible".
NHS England this afternoon suggested that NHS organisations across the country had been attacked by the WCry ransomware, while security specialists Malware Hunter suggested that it wasn't just the NHS coming under attack, or even the UK, but part of a global campaign that has been unleashed today.
It's unknown exactly what kind of attack the NHS has been stung by but it's highly likely that the it is some form of ransomware. Last year, a Freedom of Information request filed by the i newspaper revealed that 30 NHS Trusts had admitted they were the victims of ransomware attacks within a 12 month period between 2015 and 2016.
The NHS ransomware looks like a variant of WCry (aka WannaCryptor). Video of it in action here: https://t.co/YjFCp6erYg— Graham Cluley (@gcluley) May 12, 2017
Since then, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation revealed that an attack which led to operations being cancelled for four days in October was the result of a ransomware variant dubbed Globe2. There had also been confusion earlier this year when Barts Health NHS Trust suffered from a cyber attack - but the trust later ruled out the possibility of ransomware.
However, Barts has recently suffered from another IT failure which led to it cancelling 136 operations and hundreds of chemotherapy appointments. It is unknown whether a cyber attack was to blame for the failure.
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