Chesterfield Royal Hospital hit by NHS cyber attack

Several British hospitals say they are having major computer problems Hospitals in London, northwest England and other parts of the country are reporting problems with their computer systems as the result of an apparent cyberattack.

"We're aware that a number of NHS organizations have reported that they've suffered from a ransomware attack", May said.

As similar widespread ransomware attacks were reported in Spain, Romania and elsewhere, experts warned that online extortion attempts by hackers are a growing menace. Operations were canceled, emergency room services were scaled down, and medical personnel went back to using handwritten notes.

"The large-scale cyber-attack on our NHS today is a huge wake-up call", said Jamie Graves, chief executive officer of cyber-security company ZoneFox.

Some Russian media also have reported cyberattacks on the Interior Ministry and the Investigative Committee. "We have activated our major incident plan to make sure we can maintain the safety and welfare of patients", Reuters quoted the Barts Health group. Routine appointments were being canceled.

Microsoft issued a patch on March 14 described as critical to users of Windows to fix that vulnerability, which CrowdStrike and Splunk said should protect users from getting infected by Wanna Cry.

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The attack came as Spain's National Cryptologic Center announced a "massive ransomware attack" against Spanish companies. If the victim of the hack has robust backups of their system, ransomware is relatively easy to defeat: any affected computers can be wiped and restored from a backup.

A ransomware attack appears to be spreading around the world, leveraging a hacking tool that may have come from the U.S. National Security Agency.

"This was not targeted at the NHS, it's an worldwide attack and a number of countries and organizations have been affected", Prime Minister Theresa May said.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS also confirmed they experienced a "major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack".

"The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor", NHS Digital, the body of the Department of Health that uses information and technology to support the health care system, said in a statement.

Staff across the Harrogate and District NHS Foundation Trust have had their internal emails and other systems shut down in light of the attack which is affecting NHS services across the country. It said technical teams have been called to investigate the problems - but that computers in walk-in centres and hospitals are being shut down. Attacks of this kind have spiked in the past year, jumping from 340,665 attacks in 2015 to 463,841 in 2016, according to Symantec.

  • Ismael Montgomery