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NHS works to curtail cyber attack damage

19 May, 2017, 09:56 | Author: Nadine Todd

Up to 47 trusts in England and 13 Scottish health boards in the NHS were also affected when the virus targeted computers with outdated security.

Thousands of computers around 99 countries, including the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain and Italy, were said to be affected in the attack.

Dozens of state-run NHS hospitals were hit by a global cyber attack last Friday, many closing their doors to emergency cases and cancelling life-saving operations and routine appointments.

Microsoft released patches last month and on Friday to fix a vulnerability that allowed the worm to spread across networks.

Computers around the globe were hacked beginning on Friday using a security flaw in Microsoft's Windows XP operating system, an older version that was no longer given mainstream tech support by the U.S. giant.

The attacks affected 150 countries and infected at least 200,000 computers worldwide, despite global cyber security firms warning last month that they were expected.

The attack was one of the largest ransomware attacks in history.

"The message to patients is clear: the NHS is open for business". The cyberattackers demanded payments of $300 or more from users to unlock their devices.

"NCSC and NCA are working with Europol and other worldwide partners to make sure we all collect the right evidence, which we need to do to make sure we have the right material to find out who has done this and we go after them".

Because the attack occurred on Friday, right before people left their offices and went home for the weekend, many computers weren't affected because they simply weren't in use.

In North America, Lakeridge Health in Oshawa, Ontario, Canada was affected by the attack, reports CTV News. Because numerous computers impacted run older Windows systems like XP, Microsoft issued a rare patch for XP, which it had stopped updating more than three years ago.

The Indonesian government also urged companies to update their systems on Monday after two hospitals in Jakarta were hit by the ransomware.

A kill switch was accidentally discovered for the "Wannacry" virus that attempts to extort people of money in return for their data by a British cybersecurity researcher. Unfortunately, the patch won't help computers that are already infected. While this kind of hack is alarming enough to make any tech enthusiast move to a shack in the woods, it's important to remember that knowledge, even in these kinds of unsettling scenarios, is power.

Labour has accused Heath Secretary Jeremy Hunt of "ignoring the warning signs" that hospitals' ancient computer systems could fall victim to criminals.

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