The security experts has said that the Hospitals across England have been hit by a major ransomware attack, but the attacks may not be targeted at the National Health Service (NHS) alone and could be part of a global ransomware campaign.
Government and NHS heads are facing questions about why hospitals had been left vulnerable to the global cyber attack that crippled services on 12th May.
NHS England has said that large number of hospitals, GPs, and walk-in clinics across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber attack, affecting some to divert emergency patients. Many Doctors have reported getting messages of payment demand, which seems to indicate that ransomware, is involved in the attacks. Ransomware is a type of malicious software that encrypts a victim’s documents, images, music and other files unless the victim pays for a key to unlock them.
According to the BBC research, at least 16 trusts out of 47 in the United Kingdom are being forced to divert emergency patient, after computer systems there were infected with ransomware. Patients have been told to turn up for appointments, unless notified otherwise, while some GPs are asking people to consider whether they really need to attend the surgery imminently.
On 15th May, Jeremy Hunt, the Secretary of State for Health attended a Cobra committee meeting on cyber-security and said that it was "encouraging" that there has not been any fresh attacks, although the National Crime Agency said this did not mean there would not be one in the future.
He added that the government have not seen a second wave of attacks and the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range that the government had anticipated.
Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary chaired the Cobra meeting on cyber security and said that the UK was working with international partners in the global manhunt to find the ransomware's creators.
She further added that the National Crime Agency and the National Cyber Security Centre are working with Europol and other international partners to ensure that they all collect the right evidence, which they need to do, to make sure that they have the right material to find out who has done this and go after them.
NHS Incident Director, Dr Anne Rainsberry said that NHS like to reassure patients that if they need the NHS and it’s an emergency then they should visit Accident & Emergency (A&E) or access emergency services in the similar way as they normally would and healthcare professional will make sure that patients get the care they need. NHS Digital are investigating the incident and across the NHS they have tried and tested contingency plans to confirm that they are able to keep the NHS open for business.
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