Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ellis Neal

NHS Ransomware Cyber-Attack Was Preventable

Around 45 NHS organisations in England and Scotland, including hospitals, family doctor surgeries, and health services, were hit in the cyber-attack which prevented doctors, nurses and staff from accessing vital patient information.

Healthcare organizations should take immediate steps to patch Microsoft vulnerabilities causing the spread of WannaCry.

Experts have warned more people could become victims of the worldwide cyber attack when they return to work today after a weekend off.

"I think it is concerning that we could definitely see a similar attack occur, maybe in the next 24 to 48 hours or maybe in the next week or two", Huss said.

Russia's interior ministry said some of its computers had been hit, while the country's banking system was also attacked, although no problems were detected, as was the railway system.

Wainwright told the BBC that the cyber incident was an "indiscriminate attack across the world on multiple industries and services", including the UK's National Health Service.

The attacks exploit a vulnerability in outdated versions of Microsoft Windows that is particularly problematic for corporations that don't automatically update their systems.

But what exactly is it, how does it work and - most importantly - how can you keep yourself safe from attack?

In the United Kingdom, 45 organisations in the National Health Service were affected, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said on Saturday, and hospitals in London, North West England and Central England urged people with non-emergency conditions to stay away as technicians tried to stop the spread of the malicious software.

A computer virus known as WannaCry or WannaCrypt has so far spread more than 150 countries, including Turkey, but showed signs of slowing down on Monday. Security researchers said they observed some victims paying via the digital currency bitcoin, though they did not know what percent had given in to the digital extortionists.

Both said they were concerned that the authors of the malware could re-release it without a kill switch or with a better one, or that copycats could mimic the attack.

"That then means we have got to be careful opening emails from people we don't know", he said.

The situation in Ireland is being monitored by the National Cyber Security Centre in the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment.

They say it is a matter of when, not if, hackers target Northern Ireland in a large-scale attack.

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