Cyber-attack could escalate as working week begins, experts warn

[Note:  This item comes from friend Shannon McElyea.  DLH]

Cyber-attack could escalate as working week begins, experts warn
Europol and NHS fear further disruption when workers switch on computers for first time since spread of ‘ransomware’
By Robert Booth
May 14 2017

NHS chiefs and Europol have warned of possible fresh disruption from the global cyber-attack when workers switch on their computers for the first time at the start of the working week.

The pan-EU crime-fighting agency said the threat from the attack was escalating and predicted the number of “ransomware” victims was likely to grow across the private and public sectors.

Many of England’s 8,000 GP surgeries have been closed all weekend following the attack, which started on Friday afternoon. The NHS fears many could be affected for the first time on Monday.

“Given the timing of the cyber-attack, some parts of the NHS will not have clocked there is an issue,” a spokeswoman for NHS Digital told the Guardian. “If that is going to happen it is more likely to be primary care trusts.”

Surgeries were sent a bulletin on Sunday advising them what to do if they discover their computers have been hacked and how to get support from NHS Digital and the National Cyber Security Centre, which is handling the response.

Speaking about the impact of the malware attack, which not only disrupted patients and doctors at one in five NHS trusts but also hit companies around the world from Australia to Russia, the director of Europol, Rob Wainwright, said: “The numbers are going up. I am worried about how the numbers will continue to grow when people go to work and turn their machines on on Monday morning. The latest count is over 200,000 victims in at least 150 countries. Many of those will be businesses including large corporations.”

About one in five NHS trusts responsible for hospitals have already been affected by the cyber-attack using “WannaCry” malware, which disables computer systems and presents users with a ransom demand. Six trusts were still affected 24 hours after it began, amid concerns networks were left vulnerable partly because they still used outdated Windows XP software and also because security upgrades issued last month had not been installed.

Ambulances were directed away from some A&E units, some non-urgent operations were cancelled, and diagnoses were delayed as doctors had to wait for porters to bring hard copies of patients’ scans.



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