NHS cyber attack: Large-scale hack forces hospitals across England to divert emergency patients
A message appearing on computers tells doctors that they need to pay if they want to save their files
Hospitals across England have been hit by a huge cyber attack, plunging the NHS into chaos.
IT systems appear to have broken and emergency patients are having to be diverted to other areas, according to doctors.
The hack appears to be an example of ransomware – malicious hackers breaking into computers and only allowing their owners back in when they pay enough money.
A conversation circulating online saw one doctor saying “our hospital is down”.
“We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money,” the messages read. “And now everything is gone.”
The message showing on computers tells users that they can recover files but only if they send $300 of bitcoin to a specific address.
The price will rise with time and the files will eventually be deleted, the warning reads.
Affected NHS trusts said that IT systems had been shut down in order to protect them. That meant that all systems were offline and hospitals were unable to accept incoming calls.
East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust also said that it was asking people not to come to A&E, but instead to ring 111, or 999 in the case of an emergency.
“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,” a spokesperson for the trust said.
Other trusts stressed that some of the problems were being caused by protective measures, rather than the cyber attack itself.
“Following a suspected national cyber attack we are taking all precautionary measures possible to protect our local NHS systems and services,” NHS Merseyside said on Twitter.
The CCG tweeted: “We are aware of an IT issue affecting some GP computer systems.
“Patients are asked for understanding whilst the issue is resolved.
“Please avoid contacting your GP practice unless absolutely necessary. Should you wish to obtain non-urgent medical advice, please call 111.
“Please also only attend the Walk-In Centre and A&E department if absolutely necessary.”
A spokesman for NHS England said there was “an issue with IT”, but referred further inquiries to NHS Digital, which did not immediately comment.
It comes months after Barts Health Trust, the largest NHS trust in England, was hit by a ransomware cyber attack
Source: The Independent
Author: Andrew Griffin