Trusts were told about security patch last month — NHS cyberattack
May 17 2017 by Kate Woods
Though the spread of the ransomware slowed Monday, many companies and government agencies were still struggling to recover from the first attack.
Australia, according to the Prime Minister's special adviser on cyber security, Alastair MacGibbon, has missed the worst of the "WannaCry" virus - a massive global cyber "ransom" attack affecting 150 countries and hundreds of thousands of users - but he is expecting more Australian victims to turn up on Monday.
He also recommends keeping security software and operating system software up to date to keep them in-line with the latest security updates.
In a joint letter to the Health Secretary, the Care Quality Commission's Chief Executive David Behan and the National Data Guardian, Dame Fiona Caldicott, warned of the urgent need to update unprotected computer systems.
Forty-eight NHS trusts, a fifth of the total in England and Wales, have been affected, causing disruption to routine procedures and emergency services, including the cancelling of operations and postponement of cancer treatments. The NHS has not yet revealed what steps it took.
In China, hundreds of thousands of computers at almost 30,000 institutions and organisations were infected by late Saturday, internet firm 360 Security said.
However, home users are generally believed to be at low risk to this particular strain.
A spokesman for NHS Digital, which manages health service cyber security, said: "At this stage, we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed".
We will review the situation on Monday and confirm as soon as possible if any services will be disrupted on Tuesday.
The attack therefore spread faster than previous, smaller-scale ransomware attacks. "But it is 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".
When details of the bug were leaked, many security researchers predicted it would lead to the creation of self-starting ransomware worms.
The problem was then isolated, before work was undertaken to cleanse and fix it from a malicious programme known as ransomware.
It quickly put out a "highly unusual" security patch for the out-of-support Windows XP, Windows 8, and Windows Server 2003 operating systems over the weekend to protect its customers. "Most of those systems will have been patched by now, but a significant proportion won't have been".
Who was behind the attack?
The security researcher, who goes by the handle of MalwareTech (MT), was hailed an "accidental hero" for discovering the WannaCry virus' kill switch.
Bitcoin, the world's most-used virtual currency, allows anonymous transactions via heavily encrypted codes. So far, he said, not many people have paid the ransom demanded by the malware.