Monday, 17 December, 2018

UK health system has recovered from cyber attack, says minister

Kayla Schwartz | 14 May, 2017, 11:26

Avast said the majority of the attacks targeted Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chairman, said: "This cyber attack on NHS information systems is extremely worrying for patients and the doctors treating them".

Ransomware attacks are on the rise around the world. The National Cyber Security Centre said it had detected 188 "high-level" attacks in just three months.

The ransomware exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was purportedly identified by the U.S. National Security Agency for its own intelligence-gathering purposes.

"The software has actually stopped spreading across the world", he told CNN.

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 U.S.

The ransomware was created to repeatedly contact an unregistered domain listed in its code. We have also introduced a national standard for IT security for all GP surgeries in Wales.

"One thing that is very important to note is our sinkholing only stops this sample and there is nothing stopping them removing the domain check and trying again, so it's incredibly important that any unpatched systems are patched as quickly as possible", he warned.

His action couldn't help those already infected, however. Spokesman Petr Lidov told CNN that it affected call centers but not the company's networks. Two security firms - Kaspersky Lab and Avast - said they had identified the malicious software behind the attack in over 70 countries, although both said the attack had hit Russian Federation the hardest.

Lynne Owens, head of the National Crime Agency, said: "At this moment in time we don't know whether it's a very sophisticated criminal network or whether it's a number of individuals operating together".

The malware is spread by taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability that Microsoft released a security patch for in March. Hospitals often run on comically outdated computers that are vulnerable to a range of unpatchable exploits, and those computers are often networked without the proper security precautions. It encrypts data on the affected computers, reportedly demanding payments of between $300 (£230) to $600 in order to access computer files again. Fortune reported Thursday that the price of bitcoin was at an all-time high.

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

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British Prime Minister Theresa May said there was no evidence that patient data had been compromised in the attack, and that it had not specifically targeted the National Health Service.

Most of the affected hospitals were in England, but several facilities in Scotland also reported being hit. "Because they could have done something ages ago to get this problem fixed, and they didn't do it". But that's not good enough for Gowers.

"Once inside a network, it seeks out and affects any susceptible computer it can find on the network", he said.

The announcement was made following a Cobra meeting in Whitehall.

The worldwide effort to extort cash from computer users spread so widely that Microsoft quickly changed its policy, making security fixes available for free for the older Windows systems still used by millions of individuals and smaller businesses.

The cyber specialist company said computer users should be wary even of emails, even those from familiar addresses, and links within them. Here's how to turn automatic updates on.

If your computer has been affected, there's no guarantee that paying the ransom will restore it, Gazeley said.

Soon Huss and MalwareTech were communicating about what they'd found: That registering the domain name and redirecting the attacks to MalwareTech's server had activated the kill switch, halting the ransomware's infections - creating what's called a "sinkhole". "Boards are now working on protecting and restoring those systems where possible, with a view to getting most operational by Monday".

No one has yet identified the culprit.

Reassurance for patients that no patient data has been accessed or compromised in Friday's attack? Bitcoin is set up to be untraceable, so investigators will struggle to follow a money trail, he said.

"CQC (Care Quality Commission) does do cyber checks on the NHS trusts, on hospitals when they do their visits, and they will be advising NHS trusts to move to modernise their platforms and I think that after this experience, I would expect them all to move forward with modernising", she told the BBC.


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    Security experts from Kaspersky Lab and Avast Software say Russian Federation was the hardest hit, followed by Ukraine and Taiwan. IT teams with these type of platforms need to act quickly and implement the update to enable them to operate safely next week.
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