Hospitals across Britain have been shut down by a massive ransomware attack
The attack began at 12:30 pm after the National Health Service email servers crashed
The hackers are demanding $300 (£415,000) bitcoin to release the computers by May 19
In 2016 Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 to hackers after a ransomware attack
All across Britain hospitals are reporting that they are victims of a massive ransomware attack. The attack is forcing hospitals to divert emergency patients as more reports continue to come in of other attacks.
“Your Computers Are Now Under Our Control”
National Health Service computers across Britain appear to have been hit simultaneously by the attackers. The attackers are telling doctors that their “computers are now under their control” and demanding money for them to regain access.
In a statement regarding the situation, East, and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust stated: “Today, the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack.
Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust’s telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls.
The trust is postponing all non-urgent activity for today and is asking people not to come to A&E.”
NHS has reported that the unexpected attack appears to be growing as more hospitals are reporting their systems have also been compromised.
The List So Far
So far the list of hospitals under attack includes East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership University NHS Trusts, the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust and Blackpool Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
It was reported that at 12:30 pm there was a problem that caused hospital email servers to crash. After the email servers crashed, clinical systems and patient systems were reported down. Soon after a message popped up demanding $300 bitcoin to regain access to the systems, which is equal to £415,000.
“Your important files are 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.”
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center
These ransomware attacks are nothing new. In 2016, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center paid $17,000 after a hackers seized control of the hospital’s computer systems using ransomeware.
On February 5, 2016, the hospital’s computer systems were infected and prevented hospital staff from being able to communicate from the infected computers. Chief Executive Allen Stefanek said the hospital was able to regain control of their system after paying the hackers with the help of tech specialists. Stefanek stated that patient care was never compromised, nor were hospital records.
The attack forced the hospital to revert to pen and paper during the attack. It was reported that the decision to pay the hackers was made before contacting law enforcement. Stefanek said the decision to pay was made due to the need of regaining control of their computer system.
Ransomware is a malware that locks computer systems up by encrypting files, The hackers then demand a ransom for the decryption key. Unfortunately, the fastest and safest way to regain control of your files is by paying the hackers requested fee, which can get very pricey. In most ransomware cases the hackers will have a set date to pay by or they will delete all of your files.
For the most part, ransomware attacks are still not seen very often. Many believe that Africa is a primary source of ransomware, as hackers there believe these ransomware attacks help to redistribute wealth among the global economy.
Your Medical Records Are Not Safe
Hospital attacks, on the other hand, are not as rare. Over the years we have seen an increase in attacks against hospitals. However, they typically do not use the ransomware approach. Even the dark side of the Web generally has a conscious and will not shut down hospitals due to putting so many lives in jeopardy. On the other side, hackers have been targeting hospitals for personal information that can be used for fraud.
In 2016, a hacker by the name of “thedarkoverlord” obtained databases from three major healthcare databases that had over a half a million patient’s personal information. Thedarkoverlord was selling a unique copy of each database on TheRealDeal market for 151BTC (~100,000$) to 607BTC (~395,000$).
The hacker behind the attack even requested to add a note to an article from DEEP.DOT.WEB that stated, “Next time an adversary comes to you and offers you an opportunity to cover this up and make it go away for a small fee to prevent the leak, take the offer. There is a lot more to come.”