Following events of the cyber attack on the NHS it has come to light this was on a global scale, and the effects to some degree could have been minimised. What wasn’t know on the previous post a couple of days back was the extent or the nature of the attack.
The attack was global, not just on the UK with at least 100 countries being affected, in the UK it was NHS systems, in Spain the utility companies, so no real theme.
The nature of the attack is known as ransomware. This is where a virus attacks the computer and encrypts files. They will only be unlocked again after a payment. This particular code was already known to exist, a security update – or patch – was released by Microsoft in March to protect against the virus, but it appears many NHS organisations had not applied it or were using an older version of the operating system no longer supported – namely Windows XP. (https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WindowsForBusiness/end-of-xp-support) support for Windows XP finally ended in 2014.
Why was the NHS in particular a target? The size of the NHS can make it difficult to keep track that all patches have been correctly applied. Next, the NHS still use outdated operating system, Windows XP. The implications fro staying with the are clearly laid out on the webpage.
Every 2nd Tuesday of every month (known as Patch Tuesday) Microsoft puts out a series of patches which may be inconvenient, but important and should not be ignored. I have already written here before about the importance of keeping updates running and installing these when they become available. The particular cause of this attack already had a security patch deployed to many computers, almost 2 months previous to the attack.
This attack may be the first of many, so it is time now to get prepared.