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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Monday, October 23, 2017

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‘Ransomware' cyber attack strikes England’s healthcare system, appointments cancelled, ambulances diverted

NHS Digital

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LONDON, U.K. - In a shocking large-scare cyberattack that struck the core of England’s healthcare system - dozens of hospitals and doctor’s clinics suffered computer and telecom failure. 

There has reportedly been a demand for ransom in the suspected cyberattack. 

According to the BBC, the National Health Service medical facilities received a message demanding ransom for the unlocking of computer files that had been “encrypted” by the attack. 

While the message’s authenticity has not be independently verified, it reportedly claims that the payment should be made via bitcoin.

In an official statement, NHS Digital, which is the computer services arm of the health service, said that at least 16 hospitals or doctor’s offices had been directly affected by the attack.

Internal tech systems at hospitals from the center of London to rural parts of the country’s south and north have been impacted in the attack.

Some reports pointed out that affected locations included London, Blackburn, Nottingham, Cumbria and Hertfordshire. 

The statement emphasized that it would be working with Britain’s National Cyber Security Center to resolve the outage. 

Meanwhile, many healthcare centers are said to have turned off their computers to avoid potential infiltration.

Investigators are probing to see the possible implications of the attack, beyond England’s health service. 

NHS Digital said in its statement, “This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.”

It added that it did “not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed.” 

According to this statement, the culprit has been identified as a type of malware known as Wanna Decryptor.

In the melee, patients were urged to avoid visits to the emergency room unless absolutely necessary and ambulances were diverted, while many appointments were cancelled. 

Britain's National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ spy agency has confirmed that it was aware of a cyber incident and that it had begun working with NHS Digital and the police to investigate.
So far, neither the Prime Minister Theresa May, nor the Health Ministry have made an official statement. 

Incidentally, the same day, Spain's government had issued a warning that a large number of companies had been attacked by cyber criminals.

It warned that computers were infected with ransomware that locks up computers and demands ransoms to restore access.

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