Hospitals back to normal after global cyber attack

King's Mill Hospital
King's Mill Hospital

King’s Mill Hospital’s IT systems are back to normal after they were hit by a cyber-attack which affected hospital computer systems around the globe.

Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust medical director Dr Andy Haynes, said: “Our clinical IT systems are up and running as normal from today (Monday) after they were shut down as a precautionary measure on Friday amid the widespread attempt to hack computers with so-called ransomware.

“Patients due to attend outpatient clinics and for MRI, CT and ultrasound scans across the trust should attend as per their appointment information.

There may be some delays as things return to normal, so I would ask people to please bear with us.

“I would like to thank staff for their extra effort and dedication over the weekend in keeping as many services as possible running safely and effectively.

“The impact on outpatients and planned operations was minimal.”

The NHS is under increasing attack from cyber blackmailers attempting to extort ransoms from dozens of hospitals using Internet viruses which encrypt data.

Health service trusts serving millions of patients have been hit by the “ransomware” attacks in the past 12 months, prompting concern that antiquated IT systems are leaving NHS data such as patient records vulnerable to exploitation by criminals.

The rise of ransomware was last week highlighted by Europol, the EU’s law enforcement body, as the “dominant threat” to public and private organisations across Europe as organised crime groups deploy an increasingly sophisticated arsenal of viruses. “NHS trusts are being increasingly targeted and any loss of patient data would be a nightmare scenario.

Like everyone else, they need to be applying robust controls.” Ransomware works by implanting a piece of software, often sent disguised in an email, which then turns data on a machine or network into encrypted gobbledygook. The senders then demand a ransom, paid in an untraceable cyber currency such as BitCoin, which averages £350 to £700 but can reach into thousands.

According to one estimate, the extortion racket is worth some £300m a year. NHS Digital, the body which oversees cybersecurity for the health service, acknowledged an increase in attacks but said that no ransom was paid in any of the “rare” serious ransomware incidents reported to it and that no data was lost.

It said patient records had not been affected, adding that the NHS was one of myriad organisations being targeted by the attacks.