[Update: It's not just the NHS being affected. It turns out there's a massive ransomware attack going on across the world. Read more here]
The NHS has confirmed that hospitals across England have been hot by a cyber attack, locking staff out of the computer systems and forcing them to send emergency patients elsewhere.
IT systems across the country have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding ransom money in exchange for returning access to the system. Reports indicate that the affected hospitals include those run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust's university hospitals, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust, and Blackpool Hospitals. GP surgeries in Manchester and Liverpool are also reported to be affected.
The Guardian managed to speak to a member of the NHS's IT staff who confirmed that the problem started at around 12.30pm, when the email servers crashed. This was followed by clinical and patient systems going down and the appearance of a pop-up demanding $300 in Bitcoin. The pop-up has locked up the affected computers, and staff have been advised to shut down the affected PCs until further notice.
Of this tweet is to be believed, it doesn't look that dissimilar to other pieces of ransomware that have been circulating the internet for years:
— gigi.h (@fendifille) May 12, 2017
The fact that this has happened across the country, at the exact same time no less, means this probably isn't just a case of accidentally installing a dodgy file. Everything points to there being someone behind it, holding hospitals to ransom.
Seriously. What kind of piece of shit do you have to be to hit hospitals like this? Particularly those that are providing emergency care. We'll update this post if anything changes, but I certainly hope they figure out the fuckers behind this and throw them in jail for a very long time. [The Guardian]