King’s Mill Hospital investigating possible cyber attack

editorial image

Staff at King’s Mill hospital say they do not know if they have been affected affected by what is understood to be a computer system breach affecting NHS servers across the country.

A spokesman said staff at all Sherwood Forest Hospital Trust said they had turned off their pc systems this afternoon and were waiting until the extent and nature of the problem had been identified.

The spokesman said: “The A&E department remains fully open but we ask patients to use A&E wisely.

“NHS nationally will investigated the full extent and give more details later.”

Many Community Health Services and Healthcare NHS Trusts across the county have shut down their IT systems but a spokesman from Chesterfield Royal told the Derbyshire Times that its IT firewall system had so far resisted the security breach, which has shut down NHS computers across the country.

Although he did confirm that the electronic booking system for the five Royal Primary Care GP surgeries which serve Chesterfield was down.

However, anyone wishing to make a booking can still book appointments over the phone by calling 01246 748000.

Action Fraud Uk has tweeted: “We are aware the NHS has experienced a major cyber attack, we are working with law enforcement and our advice will follow shortly.”

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.

“To ensure that all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust’s hospitals continued to receive the care they need.”

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.