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UK Health Care Systems Recovering From Cyber-Attack

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Britain’s National Health Service is almost fully operational, after having been hit by a massive cyber-attack on Saturday that crippled the country’s hospitals and health care systems.

A total of 48 trusts were incapacitated by the attack, and only six are still down, according to Home Secretary Amber Rudd. Coming from an emergency Cobra meeting, Rudd said that “there’s always more” to be done to protect against these kinds of computer viruses. Some 97% of NHS trusts are now “working as normal” and there is nothing to indicate that patient data was affected, the BBC reports.

The ransomware hit universities, companies and hospitals in at least 99 countries. Europol called the attack “unprecedented,” and that its cyber-crime division was working to “mitigate the threat and assist victims” in affected countries.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats have called for an inquiry into the incident. Lord Paddick, home affairs spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, said this “left Britain defenseless.” Jonathan Ashworth from Labour demanded that a “full, independent inquiry” be conducted.

The malware, called WannaCry, spread throughout computers on Friday, leaving hospitals unable to access data and shutting down medical devices. The computers were locked by a ransomware program that asked for payments up to $300 to access files. As a result, surgeries had to be cancelled, and ambulances had to be diverted in some areas.

Lynne Owens, head of the National Crime Agency, said,

At this moment in time we don’t know whether it’s a very sophisticated criminal network or whether it’s a number of individuals operating together.

This is now referred to as the most widespread and public malware attack in recent history.

The 48 NHS trusts involved did not include GP practices or the Scottish health boards. The countries hit included the USA, France, Spain, Russia, Australia, Sweden and Norway. According to reports, the malware can be traced back to a flaw in the USA’s National Security Agency.

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