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 In ITC's Threat of the Week

On Monday this week the Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust announced a major incident, cancelled all hospital appointments and non-life critical operations and went into total lock down for 48 hours.

The life threatening, highly infectious and contagious bug that caused this lock down wasn’t MRSA, leprosy, Zika or any of the coccus family. It was an as yet undisclosed computer virus, malware or most probably RansomWare.

Old school Malware exponents appeared to operate on a fairly random numbers game – plough the fields and scatter, however increasingly and very scarily it seems that vulnerable targets that require instant access to data in life or death situations have become targets. That would be hospitals.

We have reported on a number of these attacks against USA based hospitals, including those treating very poorly heart and cancer patients in the past and it looks like the NHS is now in the firing line.

That’s right, the National Health Service, already on the ropes and groaning at the seams for all the reasons you’ve all read about. Staffed by really well minded people working together to improve the quality of lives and deaths of our people.

Deliberately targeting an already overburdened healthcare system is about as loathsome as it comes and we hope the perpetrators are brought to swift and severe justice. Let’s hope they don’t come down with something requiring hospital attention only to find that the ‘computer says no’.

Perhaps this NHS Trust was totally up to date and squeaky clean, or maybe they were running some out of support systems (like XP), time will tell. What is certain is that legacy anti-virus solutions are not appropriate and are simply no defence against current malware.

It is really time to look to one of the next generation solutions, which are not signature based and rely on algorithms, or as the marketing would have you believe ‘machine learning’. Of course these two things are exactly the same.

We would be happy to provide some advice to this or any other NHS Trust any time. If you are not an overstretched employee of the NHS and would like to discuss the perils of legacy anti virus, we would be happy to speak to you too.

Contact us at: [email protected] or 020 7517 3900.

The IT people at the Northern Lincolnshire & Goole NHS Foundation Trust remediated this severe issue within 48 hours. We bet they worked non-stop, all in the name of care. Well done and thank you to them, from all of us.

Author: Kevin Whelan

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