The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) suffered from a major cyberattack this morning with over sixteen NHS operations citing “major” technology issues across England. All of the hospitals were forced to turn patients away unless they were in “critical or life-threatening situations.” The ransomware software “WannaCry,” encrypted all of the data on computer systems of the hospitals and demanded a large Bitcoin ransom to decrypt it.
The IT professionals at the hospitals immediately shut down all systems, including photo lines after the attack was initiated. Per Shaun Lintern of the Health Service Journal, “x-ray imaging systems, pathology test results, phone and bleep systems and patient administration systems.” were among the areas most deeply affected.
Unfortunately, a military grade exploit by the name ETERNALBLUE was leaked by the US National Security Agency, which has resulted in the weaponization of the software. 57,000 people have already been struck by the WannaCry software since it’s discovery this month. Three-hundred dollars per device was demanded in Bitcoin in exchange for decryption codes, with the price rising every 3 hours. The ransom message read, “Ooops, your files have been encrypted! Many of your documents, photos, videos, databases and other files are no longer accessible because they have been encrypted. Maybe you are busy looking for a way to recover your files but do not waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”
It is unknown how long it will take for the health facilities to stand back up on their feet, but many believe backlogs will go back for weeks after today’s unfortunate attack.