Unknown Malware Shuts Down National Health Service Operations

A malware attack on National Health Service (NHS) network caused hundreds of scheduled appointments, operations, and diagnostic procedures to be canceled.

The situation has become infuriating and dangerous as healthcare industry continue to be a prime target for malware and hackers.

On Sunday, England-based Hospital “National Health Service” experienced an attack from unknown malware which resulted in the cancellation of scheduled operations, diagnostic procedures, and appointments.

To stop the malware, the IT staff of the hospital had to shut down their entire shared IT network to isolate and remove the malware from the systems.

Some patients with critical conditions were diverted to the neighboring hospitals for immediate treament.

Other hospitals that recently experienced malware attacks includes Scunthorpe General, Diana Princess of Wales in Grimsby, and Goole and District Hospital.

The NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) and Northern Lincolnshire made an announcement on October 30th that the malware infected the hospital systems in Grimsby and Scunthorpe. The foundation classified the problem as a ‘major incident’ on its Twitter account and website.

national health service

As mentioned on the site, the notification reads “We have taken the decision, following expert advice, to shut down the majority of our systems so we can isolate and destroy it.”

The systems are now back online and running their routine work. However, the NHS Trust did not provide any details related to possible data breach and damages.

2015 experienced a tremendous increase in ransomware attacks on hospitals, causing damage to their operations. The FBI had to issue urgent “Flash” messages to notify businesses and organizations about the “SamSam Ransomware” threat. Also known as ‘MSIL’ and ‘Samas’ the ransomware encrypts the sensitive data and ask for ransom (which becomes unlikely to retrieve data even after payments).

In 2015, MedStar Hospital in Washington D.C. experienced this malware and were asked 45 BTC (approx. $18,500). The hospital had to shut down its operations and restore the backup data. The practice that every organization should follow to avoid such attacks. You can find more information about this ransomware on Microsoft’s page.

In the case of NHS Trust, the origin, and the name of malware are unknown, it is likely that it is the previous malware that attacked in 2015 have attacked now after someone speculated the malicious code.

The cyber security is now becoming the critical factor while strategizing the infrastructure of healthcare industry.

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