NHS trusts recover from ransomware attack, few still using paper

Sixteen of the 47 trusts initially hit by the WannaCry virus on Friday are still dealing with delays and other issues.
By Jessica Davis
02:21 PM
NHS WannaCry ransomware

The U.K. National Health Service is still struggling to return to normal on Monday after it was hit with the massive WannaCry ransomware attack on Friday.

Routine surgery and general practitioner appointments at affected trusts have been canceled while it attempts to get services back online. Officials said patients will be contacted by their providers if services have been canceled, and scheduled appointments might be slower than normal.

Further, some surgeries will be using paper-based records while electronic systems return online.

[Also: How US healthcare spent the weekend protecting against WannaCry]

Sixteen of the 47 trusts hit by the initial attack on Friday are still dealing with issues, which is causing further delays and cancellations, according to BBC News.

NHS Providers Chief Executive Chris Hops told Health IT Central in a statement: “It’s worth pointing out that 80 percent of NHS trusts were not affected. However, 20 percent were, so clearly we will need to work out what has happened, and learn from this event. But the quick rush by some to lay the blame on ‘incompetent NHS managers’ is disappointing. It feels like the usual NHS bashing and is unsupported by evidence.”

[Also: Microsoft issues WannaCry security patch for XP, blasts US for 'stockpiling vulnerabilities']

NHS trusts were warned of cyberattack threats this spring, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon told BBC’s Andrew Marr. The government is spending about 50 million pounds to improve the NHS’ cybersecurity. Further, trusts have been advised to reduce the use of Windows XP. NHS Digital said in a statement only 4.7 percent of trusts use the outdated system.

Patients can “help the NHS cope by choosing the right service for your needs and attending accident and emergency departments only if it’s essential,” officials said.

“We've not seen a second wave of attacks and the level of criminal activity is at the lower end of the range that we had anticipated,” Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt told BBC News.

[Also: Honeypot exercise offers rare glimpse of hackers in the wild]

Since the initial attack, “there have been no sustained new attacks of that kind,” according to the U.K.’s National Cyber Security Centre officials.

“But it’s important to understand that the way these attacks work means that compromises of machines and networks that have already occurred may not yet have been detected and that existing infections from the malware can spread within networks,” officials said.

The U.K. government has published guidance to help organizations with the impact and spread of the ransomware campaign.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
Email the writer: jessica.davis@himssmedia.com

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