Colossal NHS cyber-hack attacks systems, forcing hospitals to move emergency patients

Colossal NHS cyber-hack attacks systems, forcing hospitals to move emergency patients

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The NHS are being held to ransom after a huge cyber-attack has thrown IT and phone systems in to chaos.

As the networking system has been crippled by malicious software, huge amounts of IT systems have been shut down to prevent further damage, seriously impacting the level of care the NHS can provide.

Cyber criminals are reportedly holding the network systems hostage for an undisclosed sum while watching the nation’s health service struggle to cope. Physicians are understood to be using pen and paper to made medical notes, and real lives are in real danger.

16 Hospitals and other health providers across London, Blackburn, Nottingham, Cumbria and Herefordshire are said to have been affected.  Other hospitals may take the precautionary measures to protect their own systems as well, and all action deemed non-urgent has been postponed.

Unable to deal with emergency patients, one hospital in Stevenage is asking people not to come to A&E and instead call 999 or 111 to be redirected to another healthcare provider.

While IT specialists are doing their best to resolve things as soon as possible, there are worries that if cyber criminals had the audacity and ability to create such a large scale cyber-attack, they may have measures in place to cause further damage to systems and data until they are paid off.

A worrying cyber attack

Clinicians are facing chaos and panic; one doctor posted his experience online saying: “our hospital is down” – “we got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money”.

With phone lines down, patients are unable to call hospitals. At the moment, anyone who needs to speak with a healthcare advisor is instructed to call 111 or 999 if necessary.

Serious strain on already stretched NHS resources

This will undoubtedly cause a serious strain on the emergency and general care services. People with a genuine need for help face being unable to access the valuable and life saving support our NHS offers, and lives are in real danger.

The NHS has already spoken about the incident and released the following statement:

“To ensure that 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 continue to receive the car they need.”

Public reassurance

Some trusts are attempting to reassure the public by saying that it’s protective measures causing the problems rather than the cyber-attack.  But the fact remains that care standards may fall during this attack, and people are understandably worried, and potentially at risk.

Not just hospitals affected!

Apparently the nation’s hospitals are not the only ones affected: computer screens in universities are showing up with an image of a padlock, demanding a random be paid or face being denied access to data. Phrases include: “Your important files are encrypted. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”

Like a ticking bomb, two timers on the left side of the pop up provide visual pressure for the viewer, letting them know how long they have before the random will be increased, and another timer to show how long they have before the files will be lost.

On one image, the ransom is held at $300 worth of bitcoin for 3 days. After that, the ransom will be doubled to $600.

The attack is reportedly abroad too as members of the public in Italy are taking to the internet looking for answers.

Why would anyone do such a thing?

Our health service saves lives, and people depend on it. Although any cyber criminal can be seen for exactly what they are – a criminal – attacking a valuable public service that saves lives is truly heartless, and has put real people in real danger.

We can only hope the NHS and security teams resolve and recover from the attack as quickly as possible.

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