NHS Western Isles has been hit by by a large scale cyber attack which threw health
services in chaos.
Twelve Scottish health boards are affected by computer hackers operating a widespread
ransom extortion onslaught.
Malicious software via the internet is infecting health services’ computer systems.
As the Wanna Decryptor virus rapidly spreads through the network it encrypts and
locks down patient files and other data.
Ransom notes flashed up on screens as criminals demanded hundreds of dollars per
computer to regain access.
Unless $300 per machine is paid using the digital cash service Bitcoin by Sunday
then the price doubles. Files will be destroyed if no payment is made within a week.
The NHS is not specifically targetted but is caught up in a wider international cyber-attack.
Desktop computers in GP surgeries, dental practices and other primary care centres
are suffering major disruption as a result.
IT security staff have been working all night as the scale of the attack unfolded.
The Scottish Government resilience committee is working with NHS boards to “minimise
First Minister Nicol Sturgeon said: “Immediate steps were taken to isolate the affected
systems and to ascertain the exact nature of the malware being used.
“All necessary steps are being taken to ensure that the cause and nature of this
attack is identified.
“There is no evidence that patient data has been compromised.
“Our officials continue to work closely with affected boards and relevant authorities
like the National Cyber Security Centre to take steps to isolate any affected systems.
“Our priority is to ensure that boards get all the support required to identify the
full extent of any problems, and return IT systems to normal as soon as possible,
so there is as little impact on patient care as possible.”
A spokesperson for NHS Western Isles said: “We can confirm that we have been affected
but can’t confirm to what extent at the moment.
“We do have systems in place to cover all emergencies.”
Ciaran Martin, chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, said thousands
of organisations and individuals in dozens of countries were affected.
He said patient files do not appear to have been stolen.
Mr Martin added: “The National Cyber Security Centre is working round the clock with
UK and international partners and with private sector experts to lead the response
to these cyber attacks.
“The picture is emerging that this is affecting multiple countries and sectors and
is not solely targeted at the NHS.
“We are very aware that attacks on critical services such as the NHS have a massive
impact on individuals and their families, and we are doing everything in our power
to help them restore these vital services.
“It is important that organisations reduce the risks of these attacks happening to
Computer criminals hack Western Isles NHS, demand ransom to unlock files