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Hospital operations, appointments canceled after ransomware attack | #ransomware | #cybercrime


A ransomware attack prompted some of London’s busiest hospitals to cancel operations and other appointments Tuesday, the region’s health service confirmed.

The attack targeted the IT systems of Synnovis, a provider of lab services, resulting in interruptions to many of the firm’s services. 

Synnovis Chief Executive Mark Dollar said it was still too early to know the full extent of the attack, and the company is “trying to understand exactly what happened.” 

A spokesperson for the state-run National Health Service (NHS) England — London said the attack was “having a significant impact on the delivery of services at Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts and primary care services in south east London.” 

ASCENSION HEALTH, NATION’S LARGEST CATHOLIC HOSPITAL CHAIN, VICTIM OF CYBERATTACK DISRUPTING OPERATIONS

Guy’s Hospital in London.  (Peter Dazeley/Getty Images / Getty Images)

A memo to staff said the “critical incident” had a “major impact” on the delivery of services, with blood transfusions particularly affected.

The health service said it was working “urgently” with the U.K.’s main cybersecurity agency, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), and its own cyber operations team to investigate. 

One patient who was waiting for an operation since early in the morning told The Associated Press a surgeon informed him around 12:30 p.m. it would not be happening. 

“The staff on the ward didn’t seem to know what had happened, just that many patients were being told to go home and wait for a new date,” he said. “I’ve been given a date for next Tuesday and am crossing my fingers.”

ransomware alert

A ransomware virus attack alert on a computer laptop screen. (iStock)

Ransomware attacks involve criminals paralyzing computer systems with malware and then demanding money to release them. It is the costliest and most disruptive form of cybercrime, crippling local governments, court systems, hospitals, schools and businesses. It is difficult to combat as most gangs are based in former Soviet states and out of reach of Western justice.

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Businesses and government services worldwide were disrupted in 2017 by another cyber incident that affected more than a third of England’s 236 NHS trusts and led to the cancellation of an estimated 19,000 appointments in the span of a week.

Reuters contributed to this report. 



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