Four Major UK Hospitals Targeted In Malware Attack


Four different UK hospitals have been hit by a large-scale malware attack. Several thousands of files across these London hospitals are threatened by this malicious software. Barts, the largest NHS trust in England, is working on addressing the situation. Interestingly enough, it does not appear ransomware is used for this attack Moreover, there is no Bitcoin demand by the cyber criminals either.

The attack against Barts health trust is rather disconcerting, as it is a major cyber attack against the UK hospital sector. Staff members have been urged not to open email attachments from unknown senders. Criminals often use malicious email attachment to spread malware and ransomware. However, it remains unclear which malicious software type has caused the infection, or how it will be addressed.

Malware Shuts Down Several UK Hospitals

Several of Barts’ servers have been taken offline to spread the infection. Contingency plans have been deployed, yet proven to be unsuccessful so far. Preliminary reports initiated the healthcare institution was targeted by ransomware, yet that has not been the case. A Bart spokespersons touted how ransom are is “ruled out as an attack vector”.

For the time being, the bigger question is how much damage has been done. The trust remains tight lipped regarding the amount of data compromised by this malware. Patient records still fetch a good price on the underground marketplaces, even though their value has declined steadily over the past few months. It is more likely all affected data relates to corporate information, though.

Fidelis Cybersecurity Threat Intelligence Manager John Bambenek commented as follows:

“The trouble is that local authorities and governments aren’t very prepared and they have extremely valuable information that simply can’t be lost, so they’re a tempting target for cybercriminals. Cyber defence is essential, but it’s no longer enough; organisations of all sizes need to invest in detecting threats as well. Only then will cyber criminals be caught early enough to expel them from the network before serious damage is done.”

It is not the first time UK hospitals are targeted by cyber criminals. In October of 2016, the Northern Lincolnshire and Goole foundation trust suffered a similar attack. A ransom demand was made at the time, yet never paid for. All patient appointments had to be canceled as a result, due to internal hospital systems being unusable. It is evident the UK healthcare sector remains vulnerable to these types of attack,and action needs to be undertaken sooner rather than later.

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

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