Published: Sun, May 14, 2017
Money | By Armando Alvarado

NHS cyber attack: Criminals will be brought to justice

NHS cyber attack: Criminals will be brought to justice

It was believed to the biggest attack of its kind ever recorded.

Dozens of countries were hit by the ransomware attack on Friday that locked up computers and held users' files for ransom at a multitude of hospitals, companies and government agencies.

Japan is among the countries affected by a global cyberattack, according to the cybersecurity firms Trend Micro and Kaspersky Lab, but the extent is not yet known.

The ransomware is a type of malicious software that infects a computer and restricts users access to it until a ransom is paid to unlock it. According to the Los Angeles Times in February of a year ago, the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid a $17,000 ransom in bitcoin to a cyber extortionist who also demanded payment for unlocking data.

Payment is demanded within three days or the price is doubled, and if none is received within seven days the files will be deleted, according to the screen message.

In Britain, patients of the state-funded country-wide service are facing days of chaos as appointments and surgeries were cancelled after almost 45 NHS organisations from London to Scotland were hit in the "ransomware" attack on Friday.

Microsoft swiftly released software "patches" to fix those holes, but many users still have not installed updates or still use older versions of Windows which are no longer supported by Microsoft. A Microsoft spokeswoman said that the company was aware of the reports and was looking into the situation.

Mrs May said: "This is not targeted at the NHS, it's an global attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected".

The cyberattack that spread malicious software around the world, shutting down networks at hospitals, banks and government agencies, was stemmed by a young British researcher and an cheap domain registration, with help from another 20-something security engineer in the US.

THE CYBER strike on the NHS is another reminder of how vulnerable we are to attack by computer hackers. It is too early to tell.

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A Scottish Government spokesman told the Sunday Herald there would be an "investigation when we get through the phase of supporting NHS boards". "We are implementing remediation steps as quickly as possible", a statement said.

French carmaker Renault was forced to stop production at sites in France, Slovenia and Romania, saying the measure was aimed at stopping the virus from spreading.

Past year the Kansas Heart Hospital was the victim of a ransomware attack and after it paid the first one, attackers boldly demanded they pay a second ransom, which was their price for decrypting the data. Swedish engineering firm Sandvik said it had been hit in the cyber attack.

Security software maker Avast said it had observed 126,534 ransomware infections in 99 countries, with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets. Russia's central bank said Saturday that no incidents were "compromising the data resources" of Russian banks.

Germany's Deutsche Bahn computers were also impacted, with the rail operator reporting that station display panels were affected. Universities in Greece and Italy also were hit.

A hacking group called Shadow Brokers released the malware in April claiming to have discovered the flaw from the NSA, Kaspersky said. Since Friday, the company dropped its refusal to update old versions of its programs and issued patches specifically written for use in Windows XP and several other systems.

But the researcher's actions may have saved companies and governments millions of dollars and slowed the outbreak before computers in the United States were more widely affected.

"I believe many companies have not yet noticed", said William Saito, a cybersecurity adviser to Japan's government. The danger will be discussed at the G7 leaders' summit next month.

Rudd said that all A&E departments are operating as normal, after chairing a meeting of Cobra, the government's emergency response committee, on Saturday afternoon, reports the Guardian. "There's always more we can all do to make sure we're secure against viruses, but I think there have already been good preparations in place by the NHS to make sure they were ready for this sort of attack", she added.

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