Ransomware Virus Cripples Hospital Computers; Operations Cancelled; Emergency Rooms Closed

Hospitals, clinics and ambulance services across the United Kingdom were disrupted by one the largest ransomware attacks in history Friday.

At least 16 hospitals operated by the National Health Service (NHS) in England were affected by the attack, which impacted tens of thousands of computers across the globe, including FedEx’s computers in the U.S., The Independent reported.

Operations were cancelled and ambulances were turned away from the emergency room at one London hospital, CNN reported. Barts Health NHS Trust in London reported “experiencing a major IT disruption and there are delays at all of our hospitals.”

The ransomware apparently took over the switchboards and shut down the phone system.

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“We are aware of a major IT secure system attack,” an NHS trust in Derbyshire tweeted. “All IT systems have been temporarily shut down. More information will be available shortly.”

The ransomware, identified as the Wanna Decryptor, asked hospital personnel for 300 bitcoins to get access to their computers, The Independent reported. Since a bitcoin was trading for $1,760.99 on May 12, the ransomware bandits were demanding $528,297 for access.

But Wanna Decryptor is spreading far beyond the UK, The Independent reported.

“This cyberattack is much larger than just the NHS,” Travis Farral, director of security strategy for the cybersecurity firm Anomali Labs, told the newspaper. “It appears to be a giant campaign that has hit Spain and Russia the hardest.”

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