NHS Faces 'Major' Ransomware Hack, Reports of Using 'Pens and Paper'


According to news reports, the U.K's National Health Service (NHS) is facing a major attack on its NHS 111 service.

On Aug. 6, The Guardian reported that a partner of the NHS that handles a portion the NHS' appointment bookings and referrals was hit by hackers, resulting in outages of NHS 111, which is a phone (or online) service used to "help people get the right advice and treatment when they urgently need it," according to the official NHS Web site

The NHS told The Guardian in an official statement that the disruptions have been "minimal," but one ambulance company affected by the hit says it's a major outage and there are reports staff have had to resort to using pens and paper

As of Monday, the service was still warning users that they would face delays. 

The attack was confirmed to be a ransomware attack by Aug. 8, according to Strategic Risk. There's no word yet as to what kind of attack it was or whether NHS plans to pay a bounty. 

Many news articles brought up the compliance standards in place for NHS' partners -- if they are, indeed, strict enough to prevent this kind of hack from happening or, with the prevalence of ransomware, if this is inevitable. 

The emergency 999 line remains unaffected. 

About the Author

Becky Nagel is the vice president of Web & Digital Strategy for 1105's Converge360 Group, where she oversees the front-end Web team and deals with all aspects of digital projects at the company, including launching and running the group's popular virtual summit and Coffee talk series . She an experienced tech journalist (20 years), and before her current position, was the editorial director of the group's sites. A few years ago she gave a talk at a leading technical publishers conference about how changes in Web browser technology would impact online advertising for publishers. Follow her on twitter @beckynagel.

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