Several organizations of the British public health service (NHS), including hospitals, have been the subject of computer hacking attacks this Friday, forcing them to cancel appointments, announced the NHS.
“A number of organizations have reported being affected by cyber attacks” , said the NHS in a statement, noting that “the investigation is only in its early stages” but that the virus would be concerned is a Wanna Cry ransomware virus.
This virus encrypts data on a computer, to require its owner a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. “At this stage we have no evidence to suggest that there has been access to patient data,” said the NHS.
This attack was “not directed specifically against the NHS and affects other sectors”, he further indicated. “We were told to close all our computers, wifi and also our phones. No computer is currently running “, said two hospital employees at St Bartholomew, in London, on condition of anonymity.
Several other hospital services have reported problems with their IT services.
“Major Incident Plan”
A Barts Health NHS Trust spokesman in London, said he had been forced to cancel appointments and called on patients to go “in other NHS services”, on Twitter. “We have activated our major incident plan to ensure that we can maintain the safety and well-being of our patients” , he explained.
“We are sorry to have to cancel appointments routine and ask the public to use as much as possible other NHS services”, he added, stressing that “ambulances are redirected to nearby hospitals” .
Earlier in the afternoon, the Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica and several other Spanish companies announced that they had been victims of a cyber attack.
In Madrid, the Department of Energy said to have had “confirmation of various cyber attacks against Spanish companies” , a type of “ransomware” virus that blocks access to files until a ransom is not been paid. In a statement, the ministry wants however reassuring: “The attack occasionally touched the computer equipment of different companies of workers” and “it does not affect the provision of services or the operation of networks or the users of these services “ .
The Spanish National Cryptologic Center (NCC) – a division of the intelligence services in charge of the security of information technologies – spoke of a “massive ransomware attack , cryptoware, of WannaCry kind.
The attack “affects Windows systems by encrypting all files and those networks in sharing”, said the NCC.
The UK Prime Minister, Theresa May said on Friday night that piracy was “an international attack”. “It does not cover the NHS, it is an international attack and several countries and organizations have been affected”, she said on a television channel, without specifying the number of affected targets.