NHS services across England and some in Scotland have been hit by IT failure, caused by a large-scale cyber-attack.
GP surgeries and hospitals in London, Blackburn, Dumfries and Galloway, Cumbria and Hertfordshire are among those whose systems have been affected.
Staff cannot access patient data, which has been encrypted by ransomware that hit NHS networks. There is no evidence patient data has been compromised.
It comes amid reports of cyber-attacks affecting organisations across Europe.
Ambulances have been diverted and patients warned to avoid some A&E departments.
NHS Digital said the ransomware attack was not “specifically targeted at the NHS” and was affecting other organisations.
A massive ransomware campaign appears to have attacked a number of organisations around the world.
Screenshots of a well known program that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin have been shared online by parties claiming to be affected.
NHS Digital said the attack was believed to be carried out by the malware variant Wanna Decryptor. An NHS Digital statement said: “NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and ensure patient safety is protected.
“Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.”
Software that locks a computer and demands payment before allowing access again – ransomware – is one of the world’s biggest growing cyber-threats.
Screenshots shared online purportedly from NHS staff, show a program demanding $300 (£230) in Bitcoin that looks similar to ransomware known as WannaCryptor or WCry.
There’s no indication of who is behind the attack yet, nor do we know exactly how it infected NHS systems. But hospitals have been targeted with similar software before – it struck three US hospitals last year.
A massive ransomware campaign appears to have attacked a number of organisations around the world. Screenshots of a well known program that locks computers and demands a payment in Bitcoin have been shared online by parties claiming to be affected. There have been reports of infections in the UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Taiwan. It is not yet clear whether the attacks are all connected.
One cyber-security researcher tweeted that he had detected 36,000 instances of the ransomware, called WannaCry and variants of that name. “This is huge,” he said.
Tips to Prevent Ransomware
- Visit only websites you know to be reputable.
- Ensure you have effective and updated antivirus/antispyware software and firewall running before you go online.
- Don’t click on links or open any attachments you receive in unsolicited emails or SMS messages. Remember that fraudsters can ‘spoof’ an email address to make it look like one used by someone you trust. If you are unsure, check the email header to identify the true source of communication.
- Always install software updates as soon as they become available. Whether you are updating the operating system or an application, the update will often include fixes for critical security vulnerabilities.
- Create regular backups of your important files to an external hard drive, memory stick or online storage provider. It’s important that the device you back up to aren’t left in an insecure location or on the same network that your machines are connected too.
For more information about our work, please visit www.safeinwarwickshire.com/cybercrime
Cyber Aware is a cross-government campaign, funded by the National Cyber Security Programme. They aim to measurably and significantly improve the online safety behaviour and confidence of consumers and small businesses (SMEs).
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of factual and easy-to-understand information on online safety. Their website offers advice on how you can protect yourself, your computers and devices, and your business against the likes of fraud, identity theft, viruses and other potential online problems