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UK working to restore hospital systems after cyberattack

UK working to restore hospital systems after cyberattack

Private security firms identified the ransomware as a new variant of "WannaCry".

Critically ill patients were being diverted to unaffected hospitals as computer systems failed in accident and emergency (A&E) units and doctors were locked out of test results, X-rays and patient records.

All told, several cybersecurity firms said they had identified the malicious software in upward of 60 countries, including the United States, though its effects in the USA did not appear to be widespread, at least in the initial hours.

German rail operator Deutsche Bahn said some electronic signs at stations announcing arrivals and departures were infected, with travellers posting pictures showing some bearing a message demanding a cash payment to restore access.

Britain's National Crime Agency said it was investigating the attack.

"It's a very broad spread", Jakobsson said.

The researcher, tweeting as @MalwareTechBlog, said that the discovery was accidental, but that registering a domain name used by the malware stops it from spreading.

The attacks hit a whole range of organisations and businesses worldwide.

But many companies and individuals haven't installed the fixes yet or are using older versions of Windows that Microsoft no longer supports and didn't fix.

By the group's count, the malware struck at least 74 countries.

Spain, Ukraine and India were also severely affected, according to researchers from the Kaspersky Lab.

It was reported yesterday (Friday, May 12) that hospitals - including Watford General, Hemel Hempstead and St Albans - had been facing issues with their phone and computer systems.

Hospitals and clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in London, Blackpool, Hertfordshire and Derbyshire were among those to report problems.

All outpatient appointments scheduled for today have been cancelled at all five of Barts's hospitals. Patients were asked not to come to hospitals unless it was an emergency.

NHS Digital said the attack "was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors".

The UK's National Cyber Security Centre is investigating the attack, and on Friday evening the First Minister chaired a meeting of the Scottish Government's resilience room to discuss the response.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has said the cyberattack on United Kingdom hospitals is part of a wider global attack. In the WannaCry attack it is reported that many surgeries had to be put off, x-rays cancelled and ambulances called back.

In Spain, major companies including telecommunications firm Telefónica were infected. If the ransom isn't paid, the data is often lost forever.

"IT managers need to be extremely aware that new variants of this ransomware attack are being launched nearly hourly, so they can't just check that their computer systems are protected, then relax, assuming everything will stay that way", he said.

Amid suggestions outdated software left some health service systems vulnerable after a security package was stopped in 2015, Ms Rudd said it is important to remember the NHS alone had not been affected.

"Looking at the trends, it was going to happen", he said. Experts suggested Saturday that the ransomware's progress had been halted, but new attacks could soon follow. That was a shock.

However, media reports indicate Russian Federation and Taiwan are worst hit by the attack.

Lawless reported from London.