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'The NHS cyber-attack is a wake up call', says security specialist

19 May 2017, 09:42 | Ross Houston

'The NHS cyber-attack is a wake up call', says security specialist

Ransomware

Ransomware is normally targeted at businesses and important individuals who are generally perceived to have more to lose if they don't pay the ransom.

The virus took control of users' files, demanding payments; Russian Federation and the United Kingdom were among the worst-hit countries.

Accident and emergency units in England were almost back to normal yesterday, the National Health Service (NHS) said, after the last restrictions put in place following the global cyber attack were lifted.

Over 200,000 infections in at least 150 countries have been recorded, including one in a system in a voluntary run healthcare facility in Wexford, which has been isolated.

The ransomware virus locked files and demanded payment to allow access and avoid data being destroyed.

There is no evidence that patient data has been compromised in the hack which affected around 1% of computers in the NHS in Scotland, the Scottish Government said.

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"We're in the face of an escalating threat, the numbers are going up", he said, adding that the current attack was unprecedented.

British Prime Minister Theresa May denied reports that her government had neglected cyber-security issues.

Services in as many as 45 healthcare centers, including hospitals, came to a halt when the malicious malware hit computers from midday Friday.

"The public can help us at this busy time by choosing alternatives to A&E, such as pharmacy services and NHS 111, if they have non-life threatening conditions".

Microsoft released security updates last month to address the vulnerability, with another patch released on Friday. The ransomware appeared to exploit a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own purposes and was later leaked to the internet.

Wainwright warned the healthcare sector "in many countries" was particularly vulnerable, but that all organizations should ensure they prioritise cyber security and update their systems.



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