Extortionist hack of United Kingdom hospitals part of worldwide attack

"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".

Hospitals in the United Kingdom and telecommunications companies in Spain are among those hit by a "ransomware" attack that locked up computer data and demanded payment to free it. The only people suffering are people that need emergency care.

Across Britain, as the magnitude of the attack was becoming apparent on Friday afternoon, non-emergency procedures were suspended and ambulances diverted.

The Spanish government said several companies had been targeted in ransomware cyberattack that affected the Windows operating system of employees' computers.

Pictures posted on social media showed screens of NHS computers with images demanding payment of 300 U.S. dollars worth of the online currency Bitcoin, threatening to delete files within seven days.

Former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, who in 2013 leaked documents to journalists revealing the existence of broad US surveillance programs, said on Twitter the NSA had built attack tools targeting USA software that "now threatens the lives of hospital patients".

The same malware, called WCry is also being blamed for large-scale attacks in Europe and Asia, repeatedly hitting networks in Russian Federation and China. "Once it gets in and starts moving across the infrastructure, there is no way to stop it".

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The attack appeared to exploit a vulnerability purportedly identified for use by the U.S. National Security Agency and later leaked to the internet. The tools used to pull off this attack were likely from an NSA toolset leaked by the Shadow Brokers.

At the time, some cyber-security experts said some of the malware was real, but old, BBC News reported, reminding a patch for the vulnerability was released by Microsoft in March, but many systems may not have had the update installed.

Incidents around the world appear to be linked may not be a coordinated attack on specific targets. "The patch has existed since the vulnerability was made public, so if people were applying it, this never had to happen". That gives you an idea about why the level is risk is particularly high.

There are reports that your computer could be affected if your Windows computer is on a wifi network where another user has been infected.

It said 16 NHS organizations had reported being hit.

Chris Camacho, chief strategy officer at the cybersecurity firm Flashpoint, confirmed the use of NSA tools in the "clever" attack that used encrypted emails to work around security software and gain access to a networks ripe for exploitation.

Theresa May said the Government is not aware of any evidence patient records had been compromised.

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Authorities in Britain have been braced for possible cyberattacks in the run-up to the vote, as happened during last year's US election and on the eve of this month's presidential vote in France.

Cyber attack hackers released a message warning that the ransom will double after three days and then will ultimately be taken off the table after a week. Still, the news prompted security teams at large financial services firms and businesses around the world to review their plans for defending against ransomware attacks, according to executives with private cyber security firms.

Spain's Telefonica, a global broadband and telecommunications company, was among the companies hit.

Spain's Telefonica was among the companies hit.

The Kaspersky Lab security firm detected more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries within ten hours, according to a report issued by the company.

The statement said "due to the efficient cooperation between the institutions, the attack was prevented as were damages, as the targets were identified as well as the methodology of the attack".

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde said four GP practices had experienced disruption to IT systems, but the rest of the area was unaffected. Carlos Cabreiro, the director of a police unit that fights cyber crime, told the newspaper Público that the country was facing "computer attacks on a large scale against different Portuguese companies, especially communication operators".

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