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London Hospitals Struggle Amidst a Russian Ransomware Attack | #hacking | #cybersecurity | #infosec | #comptia | #pentest | #ransomware

  • Several London hospitals are struggling to deliver basic pathological services after being hit by ransomware.
  • Guy’s and St Thomas’, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts, Evelina London Children’s Hospital, and a few other care services in southeast London.
  • A Russian group by the name of Quilin is believed to be behind this attack, and as usual, they have demanded money. While no official response has been made to this demand, it’s important to note that the British government is usually against paying ransom.

A number of London hospitals are having trouble delivering pathological services after a Russian hacker group ‘Quilin’ attacked an important service partner Synnovis. Some key systems have also been down since then, further escalating the problem.

Affected hospitals include:

  • Guy’s and St Thomas’
  • King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trusts
  • Evelina London Children’s Hospital
  • A few other care services in southeast London

The news has been confirmed by the National Cyber Security Centre in London. It’s well worth noting here that the total global ransomware payments crossed $1.1 billion in 2023, and 2024 doesn’t seem to bring much respite, either.

How Are the Affected Hospitals Dealing with This Crisis

The situation is evidently critical, yet most of the hospitals are going out of their way to minimize the impact on patients as much as possible.

“All urgent and emergency services remain open as usual and the majority of outpatient services continue to operate as normal.” – NHS spokesperson

Ian Abbs, CEO at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, revealed that blood transfusion has been affected the most in this cyberattack-infused crisis.

They are trying to reach out to other providers, but in the meantime, they had to resort to the old paper method, where blood test results are printed out and delivered to respective wards through the help of porters. Naturally, this has slowed down the whole process, leading to delayed diagnosis and care.

CEO Abbs has apologized for all the inconvenience the patients and their families are having to face but also added that the hospital is working closely with the authorities to fix the issue. However, he has no idea when the systems will be back up.

A leaked document revealed that the WinPath blood transfusions IT is down across all sites. As a result of this, several elective surgeries at specialist heart and lung healthcare centers such as Royal Brompton and Harefield had to be put on hold.

The only silver lining here is that the BloodTrack and EPIC systems—blood transfusion software that doubles up as a digital health record—are still working. This means blood components can still be administered. However, most hospitals are only issuing components for urgent cases at the time of writing.

Who’s Responsible for the Attack?

As mentioned before, it’s believed that a Russian hacker group called Quilin carried out the attack and its sole motive is money.

However, the British government has had a longstanding policy of not paying ransoms. So, it will be interesting to see how they plan to handle this crisis.

Quilin isn’t a new group, either. It has been previously held responsible for orchestrating attacks on Australian courts, a few automobile companies, and the Big Issue in the UK.

Plus, the type of ransomware it has used makes it clear that they are not to be taken lightly. That’s because ransomware attacks usually lock access to data, which is then used to extort money.

However, for an attack to be so severe that it takes down an entire software is huge. In fact, it’s one of the most serious attacks the country has ever seen.

Cyberattacks on healthcare institutions have increased in the past year.

What Does Synnovis Have to Say?

Mark Dollar, the CEO of Synnovis, said that it’s too early to say what exactly went wrong. But they have teamed up with the NHS and a group of IT experts to get to the root of the attack, assess the extent of impact, and create a plan of action.

He also apologized for the impact this attack is having on patients and assured that the company will do its best to minimize the impact on its partners (i.e hospitals).

Speaking about the cause of the attack, Dollar said that Synnovis takes cybersecurity very seriously and has made substantial investments to secure its network. All in all, this incident serves as a reminder that an attack like this can happen to anyone and you can never really be too safe. Stay tuned for more updates on this story.

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