Largest National Health Service in UK Faces Cyber Attack

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The Barts Health NHS Trust in London UK has suffered an unspecified ‘IT attack’ on this January 13. First reports suspect that it was due to a ransomware attack, but that has since been ruled out. Nevertheless, a number of drives offline drives are taken by the trust as a precautionary measure.

The Barts (Wikipedia) is the largest National Health Service (NHS) Trust in the London, United Kingdom. It is being operated in five hospitals in London: Newham University Hospital, Mile End Hospital, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital in Smithfield in the City, The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, and Whipps Cross University Hospital.

The health service journal HSJ reported this Friday that(subscription required), “The largest NHS hospital trust in England has been infected with a ransomware causing it to take its pathology service offline, HSJ can reveal.”

The claim was made based on the reports of an internal email to the employees warning that the trust was suffering a “ransomware virus attack issue,” which is followed by an afternoon communication warning that three of the trust’s four hospitals had engaged “operating downtime procedures” for their pathology systems.

However at the time of this report, the only official statement from Barts rules out ransomware. “On 13 January Barts Health became aware of an IT attack,” it states. “We continue to urgently investigate this matter and have taken a number of drives offline as a precautionary measure. Importantly, we can now rule out ransomware as the root cause. We have also established that in addition to the Trust’s core clinical system Cerner Millennium, Radiology and imaging from X-rays and scans continue to be used as normal. We have tried and tested contingency plans in place and are making every effort to ensure that patient care will not be affected.”

The nature of the attack is yet ti be specified. It is not yet known whether it is an attempt to steal confidential data, or a just a virus/worm infection spreading through Bart’s networks.

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