IN MY OPINION
Several weeks ago, I mentioned in this corner that the Ger-man govern-ment plans cyber attack ‘hackback’ ahead of na-tional elec-tions in Sep-tember. In-deed, there are many cyber attack fears ahead of it. How much more now!
Latest example: several British NHS (National Health Sysyem) divisions reported problems with their computer systems on Friday afternoon local time (May 12, 2017) – while hospitals in London, northwest England and other parts of the country alerted patients to the temporary closures.
“We are aware of a major IT secure system attack. All IT systems have been tem-porarily shut down,” Derby-shire Community Health Services said on Twitter. NHS Merseyside in the north of England reassured its patients via Twitter that it was working to solve the problem. Sure!
The NHS later confirmed several hospitals’ computer systems had been hit by the Wanna Decryptor ransom-ware variant, but that patient data had not been accessed. “This attack was not speci-fically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organiza-tions from across a range of sectors,” NHS Digital, a division of NHS England that handles information techno-logy issues, said in a statement.
Ransomware attacks are becoming more more fre-quent. British hospitals have been hit by ransomware attacks before, with hackers typically encrypting files and demanding a bitcoin bounty to unlock the files. The malware typically spreads through networks.
In 2016 an NHS division canceled operations and diverted major trauma cases when it was hit by a virus.
Intel Security reported in 2016 that hospitals were increasingly being targeted by ransomware operations, with one operator earning almost US$121 million (111 million Euro).”A combination of legacy systems with weak security, a lack of employee security awareness, a frag-mented workforce, and the pressing need for immediate access to information has led the criminal underground to prey on hospitals,” the report said.
In 2016 British leaders unveiled a multibillion-pound national cybersecurity stra-tegy that included new police units to target organized online gangs and even retaliation for major attacks.
Already 2016, hackers hold German hospital data hostage. Several hospitals in Germany have come under attack by ransomware, a type of virus that locks files and demands cash to free data it maliciously encrypted. Ac-cording to present know-ledge, it was an attachment in an email that allowed the virus to enter the system. It will take weeks until all sys-tems are up and running again. First thing, one might notice the system isn’t running smoothly anymore. Error messages are popping up, and the system is suspiciously slow.
Hospitals have fallen victim to ransomware – a type of malware that makes data inaccessible to its rightful owner. Hackers then demand ransom payments in ex-change for a key that unlocks the files.
Ransom payments hap-pened also in Hollywood. Blackmailing hospitals into paying ransom has also been reported in other parts of the world, most notably in the US state of California where a Hollywood hospital paid about $17,000 (15,000 EURO) in the digital currency bitcoins to hackers this month.
Import is to have regular backups. If the virus encryp-ted data is being backed up, one just restore the backup files. Fact is, each one of us and our surroundings are being watched by Big Brother…. A world of glass!
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