Scottish NHS health boards escape major cyber disruptions


They were among many victims of an indiscriminate global attack that has struck hundreds of thousands of computers worldwide by exploiting known vulnerabilities in older Microsoft computer operating systems.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust has revealed it was one of the first organisations in the North East to be hit by last week's cyber attack, despite having the most up-to-date antivirus protection available. Security experts say this attack should wake up every corporate board room and legislative chamber around the globe.

"There was an impact on appointments and the general operation of the surgeries but they were still open". However, there have been some reports of ambulances being diverted from affected hospitals and individual NHS trusts have asked registered patients not to attend unless it is urgent.

Accident and emergency units in England were almost back to normal on Tuesday, the National Health Service (NHS) said, after the last restrictions put in place following the global cyber attack were lifted.

Hackers took control of computers and cut off phone lines in hospitals on Friday causing mayhem and leaving large sections of NHS services down over the weekend.

The enterprise-security division of Qihoo 360, one of China's leading suppliers of anti-virus software, said 29,372 institutions ranging from government offices to universities, ATMs and hospitals had been "infected" by the outbreak as of late Saturday.

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The attack meant that scheduled appointments were pushed back and many trusts struggled to deal with patient demand.

Seven hospital trusts were still experiencing problems earlier on Monday, among them St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, and Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust.

Hospitals, major companies and government offices were hit by a virus that seeks to seize control of computers until the victims pay a ransom.

Rob Whiteman, CIPFA chief executive said: "The NHS ransomware attack needs to be a stark reminder for all government organisations to ensure IT security is optimal, regularly reviewed and upgraded, and given the resources to match our reliance on digital systems".

Labour's shadow health secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, in a letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said concerns were repeatedly flagged about outdated computer systems.