NHS cyber attack: Hospital boss praises IT staff

Katrina Barker
May 17, 2017

Ireland's fledgling National Cyber Security Centre says just 20 Irish IP addresses were hit by the ransomware cyber attack that locked up more than 200,000 computers worldwide.

A feared second spike in the attack failed to materialize on Monday but the healthcare system was still disrupted.

The new infections were largely in Asia, which had been closed for business when the malware first struck.

Companies around the globe are preparing for an imminent cyber attack as the offices re-open on Monday, media reports said.

U.S. package delivery giant FedEx, Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and Germany's Deutsche Bahn rail network were among those hit in the attacks, which demanded money to allow users to unblock their computers.

Experts think it unlikely to have been one person, with criminally minded cyber crime syndicates nowadays going underground and using ever more sophisticated encryption to hide their activities.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, while FedEx said it was "implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible".

A fifth of regional hospital associations in Britain's National Health Service were affected and several still had to cancel appointments on Monday, as doctors warned of delays as they can not access medical records. Seven of the 47 affected trusts were still having IT problems Monday. The software attack has taken a toll on many people in the real world.

Prime Minister Theresa May said "warnings were given to hospital trusts" about the Microsoft vulnerability exploited by the attackers.

"Very few banks if any have been affected because they've learned from painful experience of being the number one target for cybercrime", he said.

But is the public sector really any worse than the private sector at keeping its IT security up to date and avoiding cybercrime?

The Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Coordination Center said 2,000 computers in Japan were reported affected so far, citing an affiliate foreign security organization that it can not identify.

The report said the continued use of "outdated systems" was "one of the most pressing issues facing IT infrastructure" in the NHS.

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 USA giant.

He had said earlier at the weekend: "Patients safe, staff cheerful, IT department working non-stop". Affected by the onslaught were computer networks at hospitals in Britain, Russia's interior ministry, the Spanish telecom giant Telefonica and the USA delivery firm FedEx and many other organizations.

Those with planned appointments should attend unless told otherwise.

The latest malware, called WannaCrypt or WannaCry, is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March.

Hackers reportedly used a tool known as Eternal Blue and a malicious software called WannaCry to lock users' computers and to demand a payment for the decryption. That helps users evade tests performed by software producers including Microsoft to establish authenticity, but it leaves them vulnerable to cyberattack.

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

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