Published: Fri, May 19, 2017
Medicine | By Earnest Bishop

NHS 'open for business' after cyber attack

Another government security official said no government systems were affected.

"We will get a decryption tool eventually, but for the moment, it's still a live threat and we're still in disaster recovery mode", Europol director Rob Wainwright told CNN's Becky Anderson on Sunday, adding that the number of cases was still rising.

"Microsoft offers custom support agreements as a stopgap measure" for companies that choose not to upgrade their systems, Microsoft spokesperson said to Agence France Presse (AFP). The NHS has said hospitals have had to cancel some outpatient appointments because of the attack. Chinese secondary schools and universities were affected, manufacturing facilities in France and Slovenia were forced to shut down, parts of the FedEx computer network were impacted, as were networks in Brazil's national petrochemical country as well as its court system and foreign ministry.

In mid-march, Microsoft distributed a security update after it detected the security flaw in its XP operating system that enabled the so-called WannaCry ransomware to infiltrate and freeze computers last week.

NHS Digital said health trusts across England were sent details of an IT security patch that would have protected them from the attack.

Companies need to make sure they have updated their systems and "patched where they should" before staff arrived for work on Monday morning, the European Union law enforcement agency head said. The infection was spread due to a security vulnerability that Microsoft didn't know about, but the National Security Agency did.

But the larger questions surrounding cyber security persist.

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"This attack provides yet another example of why the stockpiling of vulnerabilities by governments is such a problem", he said.

The impact of WannaCry ransomware attack has been limited to five or six isolated instances so far and there are no reports of any substantial disruption to Indias IT backbone, the government said today.

It was "too early to say" what the overall cost of the attack to public coffers would be, he said.

The attack has hit more than 75,000 computers in 99 countries.

Asked why a £5 million contract with Microsoft to protect the XP machines had been terminated, the spokesman said £50 million had been made available to NHS bodies for cyber security in the 2015 spending review. "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".

By the weekend, the incident appears to have been contained, although experts warn that the next attack is likely to have already been launched, its targets infiltrated and it is only awaiting commands to begin.

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