Cyber attack spreads across 150 countries

Cyber attack spreads across 150 countries

A spokesperson for the organisation told Business Insider: "NHS Digital issued a targeted update on a secure portal accessible to NHS staff on April 25, and then via a bulletin to more than 10,000 security and IT professionals on April 27 to alert them to this specific issue".

More than 200,000 victims in around 150 countries have been infected by the ransomware which originated in the United Kingdom and Spain on Friday before spreading globally.

Around a fifth of NHS trusts were hit in the attack, forcing them to postpone operations and procedures over the weekend. Patients with an appointment should attend as normal, unless specifically contacted by the hospital. "The numbers are going up; I am anxious about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn (on) their machines on Monday morning". An NHS England spokesman described it is a "very complex emerging picture".

It continued: "We would ask patients not to call the hospital to confirm appointments are still going ahead in order to keep our phone lines open for urgent enquiries".

It was too early to say what the overall cost of the attack to the public purse would be, the spokesman said.

Seven hospital trusts are still experiencing serious problems, among them St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, York Teaching Hospital NHS Trust and the University Hospitals of North Midlands Trust.

The crippling cyberattack on the NHS could have been avoided if IT staff had followed guidance sent to them several weeks ago, it was claimed on Monday.

But did they? At the end of previous year the software firm Citrix said that a Freedom of Information request had revealed that 90% of hospitals still had machines running on Windows XP.

Medical staff reported seeing computers go down "one by one" as the Wanna Decryptor ransomware, also known as WannaCry, took hold, locking machines and demanding money to release the data.

Mr Turnbull's cyber security adviser, Alastair MacGibbon, said none of Australia's government agencies or health systems had been hit.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd is to chair a meeting of the Government's emergency Cobra committee at the Cabinet Office on Whitehall on Monday to assess progress on dealing with the attack.

Dr Anne Rainsberry, national incident director at NHS England, said: "There are encouraging signs that the situation is improving, with fewer hospitals having to divert patients from their A&E units".

Europol has been analysing the virus and is yet to identify the hacking group behind the massive attacks. "The fact is the NHS has fallen victim to this".

Britain's National Crime Agency, which tackles serious and organised crime, said it had not seen a second round of cyber attacks on Monday as experts had feared.

A British cyber expert was hailed an "accidental hero" after he registered a domain name that unexpectedly stopped the spread of the virus, which exploits a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows software.

Darien Huss, a 28-year-old research engineer who assisted the anonymous British researcher who stopped the virus from spreading, said he was "still anxious for what's to come in the next few days because it really would not be so hard for the actors behind this to rerelease their code without a kill switch or with a better kill switch".

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