September 23, 2018

NHS was ‘repeatedly warned’ of cyber-attack, says Fallon

39Hospital trusts were repeatedly warned about cyber threats before the attack on computer systems on Friday, defence secretary Michael Fallon has said.
He told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show the NHS was given ‘a large chunk’ of money to improve its security.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday that an annual £5.5m deal with Microsoft to protect NHS devices had been renewed in 2014 but not since.
A handful of trusts are still dealing with disruption caused by the hack.
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The ransomware causing chaos
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The ransomware, which locked users’ files and demanded payment to allow access, spread to 150 countries, including Spain, Russia, the US and China.
In England, 48 trusts reported problems at hospitals, GP surgeries or pharmacies and 13 NHS organisations in Scotland were also affected.
Some hospitals were forced to cancel treatment and appointments and, unable to use computers, many doctors resorted to using pen and paper.
‘Large chunk’ of funding
Asked by Andrew Marr if the government had failed to give the NHS proper support and failed to pay for ‘crucial’ upgrades to security in 2015, Mr Fallon said £1.9bn had been set aside for UK cyber-protection – when cyber-attacks were identified as one of three main threats to the UK’s defences.
Of that, he said: “We’re spending around £50m on the NHS cyber systems to improve their security. We have encouraged NHS trusts to reduce their exposure to the weakest system, the Windows XP.
Fewer than 5% of the trusts used XP now, he said.
“We want them to use modern systems that are better protected.
“We warned them, and they were warned again in the spring. They were warned again of the threats.
However, Kingsley Manning, a former chairman of NHS Digital, – which provides the health services’s IT systems – told the BBC on Saturday that several hundred thousand computers were still running on Windows XP.
Europol head Rob Wainwright warned on ITV’s Peston on Sunday there was an escalating threat from the virus, known as Wanna Decryptor or WannaCry, as people returned to their workplace computers on Monday.
Security experts have warned another major cyber-attack could be imminent after 125,000 systems across the globe were affected on Friday.
UK security researcher “MalwareTech”, who helped to limit the ransomware attack, has predicted another one coming as the new week begins.
‘Kill switch’
MalwareTech, who wants to remain anonymous, was hailed as an “accidental hero” after registering a domain name to track the spread of the virus, which actually ended up halting it.
But he and fellow security researcher Darien Huss from tech firm Proofpoint, have warned the attack could happen again, without a “kill switch” in the virus that they say helped to stop its progress.
The cost of the attack is unknown, in the UK or beyond, but BBC analysis of three accounts linked to the ransom demands suggest hackers have already been paid the equivalent of £22,080.
The Liberal Democrats and Labour have both demanded an inquiry into the cyber-attack.

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