LONDON — British Prime Minister Theresa May has confirmed that the massive ongoing cyberattack that caused chaos in the NHS on Friday is part of a broader international attack.
At least 16 (and maybe as many as 40) NHS organisations across the country were hit by a devastating attack, which shut down computer systems and demanded a ransom. Hospitals had to close, operations were cancelled, and doctors were forced to resort to pen and paper to work.
The malware has been detected in at least a dozen countries across the globe, affecting everyone from Spanish telecoms giant Telefonica to logistics firm FedEx. May has now said that the UK government does not believe the NHS was the intended target of the attack.
“This is not targeted at the NHS, it’s an international attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected,” she said in a statement.
“We are not aware of any evidence that patient data has been compromised.”
Security researchers believe the as-yet unidentified attacker(s) combined the “ransomware” malware with a Microsoft Windows software exploit developed by the NSA, a US spy agency, which was previously leaked online. Microsoft has has already developed a software patch, but not all users have updated their computers, leaving them vulnerable.
Here’s the full statement from Theresa May:
“We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack.
“This is not targeted at the NHS, it’s an international attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected.
“The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS digital to ensure that they support the organisations concerned and that they protect patient safety.
“And we are not aware of any evidence that patient data has been compromised.
“Of course, it is important that we have set up the National Cyber Security Centre and they are able to work with the NHS organisations concerned and to ensure that they are supported and patient safety is protected.”
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