Cyberattack hits NHS hospitals as ransomware sweeps globe

NHS England suffered a cyberattack which afternoon that has left IT services inoperable, as malicious software spread to targets in 72 countries.

The attack, reported to have been caused by ransomware infiltrations (a form of malware that encrypts the PC’s data until a ransom is paid) started in the early afternoon, affecting clinical and non-clinical staff in some of the nation’s hospitals and surgeries.

The attack has affected companies and institutions in as many as 72 countries, according to cybersecurity experts, including the Spanish Telefónica and the Russian Interior Ministry, according to the NYTimes.

By 16.30, the attack had been deemed a “major incident” and all healthcare providers had been put under a lockdown protocol, forcing computers to be switched off and clinical staff to work off paper notes.

The attack has affected as many as 40 NHS trusts, according to The Mirror. In London, as in the rest of the country, the attack has been particularly hard in hospitals, currently struggling to provide services without access to the patients’ clinical history.

Barts NHS Trust was forced to cancel routine appointments, divert ambulances and stop taking trauma patients. A source at UCLH has confirmed that the IT services in A&E have been working without complications, but the effect on of other university teaching hospitals around the capital is yet unknown.

The Prime Minister has said that “the Government is not aware of any evidence that patient records have been compromised”. There is currently no information indicating when health services will go back to normality.

In Italy, the University of Milano-Bicocca is believed to have been affected. One student shared images from a computer laboratory which had fallen victim to the attack.

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