Monday, 20 November, 2017

Robison: Cyber-attack on Scots NHS 'isolated'

Kayla Schwartz | 15 May, 2017, 02:34

Russian cellular phone operators Megafon and MTS said some of their computers were hit and the Russian national railway system said although it was attacked, rail operations were unaffected.

The PSNI's top cyber security specialist, Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant, says the force has enlisted the help of experts to ensure local hospitals are resilient enough to deal with large scale ransomware cyber-attacks like the one that took down NHS computer networks across England and Wales on Friday.

The cyber-attack that disrupted computers in most of Scotland's health boards on Friday has been isolated, the Scottish government has said.

"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".

It appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked to the internet.

According to Reuters, Computers in thousands of locations have been locked by a programme that demands $300 (£230) in Bitcoin.

It encrypts files on a user's computer, blocking them from view, before demanding money, via an on-screen message, to access them again.

British Home Secretary Amber Rudd said today that 45 public health organizations were hit, but she stressed that no patient data had been stolen.

The revelation came as experts said they are working round-the-clock to restore the IT systems of NHS after they were hit by a large-scale cyber-hack by an worldwide criminal gang that wreaked havoc around the world including India.

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But the attackers may yet tweak the code and restart the cycle. Patients were asked not to come to hospitals unless it was an emergency.

The US Computer Emergency Readiness Team (USCRT) under the Department of Homeland Security said it has received multiple reports of WannaCry ransomware infections in many countries around the world.

Microsoft said it was pushing out automatic Windows updates to defend clients from WannaCry.

While no German government agencies were believed to have been affected, Russia's Interior Ministry said about 1,000 of its computers were hit. Portugal Telecom and Telefonica Argentina both said they were also targeted. Ministry spokeswoman Irina Volk was quoted by the Interfax news agency Saturday as saying the problem had been "localized" with no information compromised. Russia's central bank said Saturday that no incidents were "compromising the data resources" of Russian banks.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, said many British hospitals still use Windows XP software, introduced in 2001.

NHS Digital said engineers are working "around the clock" to fix the problem and that "the situation is changing and impacting organisations in a range of different ways".

Security experts said it appeared to be caused by a self-replicating piece of software that enters companies when employees click on email attachments, then spreads quickly as employees share documents.

British media had reported a year ago that most public health organizations were using an outdated version of Microsoft Windows that was not equipped with security updates. Deutsche Bahn said it deployed extra staff to busy stations to provide customer information, and recommended that passengers check its website or app for information on their connections. IF Odd, a 132-year-old Norwegian soccer club, saying its online ticketing facility was down.

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