Cyber security: NHS 111 attack

“The cyber-attack has been confirmed as a ransomware attack”

I’m sure we’re all familiar with the 999 number, used in emergencies. 

You can also seek medical assistance over the phone using the number ‘111’, used for non-emergencies. 

NHS 111 helps those who need medical help urgently but are not in a life-threatening situation. 

Last Thursday, August 4th, NHS 111 was the victim of a major cyber-attack. 

NHS 111 was experiencing issues with the system that they use to refer their patients for care. 

Ambulances weren’t being dispatched, any out-of-hours appointments couldn’t be booked and even emergency prescriptions were being disrupted by the attack. 

The Welsh ambulance service said that the disruptions were affecting all nations that make up the United Kingdom. 

Their service provider Advanced, is working with the National Crime Agency in light of the attack, Simon Short the boss of Advanced says “a Security issue was identified yesterday, which resulted in a loss of service” 

And “We can confirm that the incident is related to a cyber-attack and as a precaution, we immediately isolated all our health and care environments.” 

 It is believed that the attack was a ransomware attack. 

There are ransomware gangs that encrypt the data, then they will order a ransom for the decryption of the data. 

These gangs have been regularly attacking hospitals and schools. 

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government stated it was “working with all health boards collaboratively on a four nations basis with the National Cyber Security Centre and the supplier to fully understand potential impact” 

As it stands, this outage could possibly last up to three weeks. 

The NHS have confirmed that they remain functional, and that the public should use their services as normal but wait times for NHS 111 calls may be longer. 

It is also unknown how long the NHS information will be held by the attackers. 

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