NHS HOSPITALS across the UK are suffering a widespread IT failure after being hit by a ransomware attack.
NHS employees and health journalists are tweeting images of the ransomware, believed to be a variant of Wanna Decryptor, which is demanding $300 worth of Bitcoin to restore ransomed files.
The NHS ransomware looks like a variant of WCry (aka WannaCryptor). Video of it in action here: https://t.co/YjFCp6erYg— Graham Cluley (@gcluley) May 12, 2017
The ransomware warns that it will increase its demands if the ransom isn't paid within three days, and warns that files will be deleted for good in a week's time.
Here's the malware attack which appears to have hit NHS hospitals right across England today pic.twitter.com/zIAJ6wbAG5— Lawrence Dunhill (@LawrenceDunhill) May 12, 2017
According to reports up to 25 hospitals are affected, including those run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, the university hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust and Blackpool teaching hospital NHS foundation trust.
The East and North Hertfordshire NHS was quick to confirm that it has fallen victim to the cyber attack, and said that it had shut down IT systems and telephone lines and asked people in the area not to come to A&E unless it's a life-threatening emergency.
In an official statement, NHS Digital said that it believes the malware is a variant of Wanna Decrytpor, which reports claim is spreading via an SMB exploit in Windows that was first outed in February and patched by Microsoft in March.
"The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor," a spokesperson said.
"At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.
"NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations."
NHS Digital added that the attack was "not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors". Reports claim that Telefonica, Spanish publication El Mundo and a number of universities are also facing a similar attack.
This widepread attack comes just months after Barts Health NHS Trust admitted that its PCs have been infected with ransomware, affecting "thousands" of files on its, sigh, Windows XP-powered computers.
Bart's Health isn't the only NHS Trust to continue to run Microsoft's now-defunct Windows XP operating system, despite the government cancelling its extended support deal with Microsoft two year's ago. A report from December revealed that 90 per cent of the NHS continues to run Windows XP machines, two and a half years after Microsoft ditched support for the ageing OS.
This list includes East Sussex Healthcare, which has 413 Windows XP machines, Sheffield's Children's hospital with 1,290, and Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Trust in London with an insane 10,800 Windows XP-powered PCs.
We'll update this story as we hear more. µ
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