NHS services in England and Scotland were hit on Friday by a large-scale ransomware cyber-attack that disrupted hospital and GP appointments. The incident is believed to be part of a wider, untargeted attack that affected computers all over the world.

Worldwide Ransomware Cyber Attack

NHS Ransomware Cyber Attack
©-Paulo-Resende-Dreamstime-Stock-Photos

Some hospitals and GPs were left been unable to access their patient data after their computers were locked by a ransomware program. The malware – “Wanna Decryptor” or “WannaCry” – demanded a payment of £300 (£230) to unlock their files. About 40 NHS organisations and some GP practices were hit. Who is behind the attack is not yet known, but the hackers demanded payment in the virtual currency Bitcoin, which is very hard to trace. The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is working closely with the NHS to identify the attackers and assist with recovering the data.

Why were computers affected?

Early indications seem to indicate that this relates to a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows. Microsoft has already released a patch for this vulnerability, but there are many users who for one reason or another do not have this patch. Computers that had not been updated were affected. We reported in December 2016 how the NHS is still running Windows XP in many hospitals, and the support contract ended over two years ago. It is tempting to ignore requests to update your system, but these updates are designed to keep you safe and should never be ignored.

What can I do about Ransomware?

If you do not have the time right now to read through our ten tips to avoid ransomware, our immediate advice is:

  • Do not open email attachments from people you don’t know or are not expecting
  • Make sure you have an up-to-date virus guard (we can supply AVG for businesses)
  • Make sure your operating system is updated with the latest security patches.

If you have any feeling, no matter how small that you have have been affected:

  • remove your network cable
  • turn off your wifi immediately

This will prevent it spreading to other computers on your network. Then call us on 01482 424402, and we will help.

If you are worried call us. Throughout the rest of this week, we will be providing details of how to make sure your system is up-to-date, for Windows 7, 8 and 10 users. If you need business IT support for your business then call us on 01482 424402 for more details on our cloud IT support service or our managed AVG Antivirus solution.