NHS England cyber attack: Hackers demand ransom in exchange for access

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As over a dozen of NHS England hospitals were rendered in chaos after being hit by a large scale cyber attack, the hackers have demanded ransom in exchange of giving back access of PCs to the hospital.

According to a report by The Guardian, hospitals across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit by a bug in their IT systems, leading to many diverting emergency patients.

NHS England said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon.

East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, one of the those affected, said in a statement: "Today (Friday, 12 May 2017), the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack. Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust's telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls."

"The trust is postponing all non-urgent activity for today and is asking people not to come to A&E - please ring NHS111 for urgent medical advice or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency," the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Independent reported that a conversation circulating online saw one doctor saying "our hospital is down".

"We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money. And now everything is gone."

The Independent reported that pop-up the message showing on computers tells users that they can recover files but only if they send USD 300 of bitcoin to a specific address.

The price will rise with time and the files will eventually be deleted, the warning reads.

Post the cyber attack, details of patient records and appointment schedules, as well as internal phone lines and emails, have all been rendered inaccessible.

Also many hospitals were forced to divert emergency patients.

The NHS Digital said in a statement, "The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this. NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations."

The statement added that the attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors. (ANI)
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