London hospitals cancel appointments and operations after ransomware attack

London: A cyberattack against a pathology lab services supplier forced several London hospitals to cancel surgeries and send away patients on Tuesday.

Synnovis said that it was the victim of a ransomware. Mark Dollar, chief executive of Synnovis, said that the ransomware attack had “affected all Synnovis’ IT systems and resulted in many interruptions to our pathology services.”

He said, “It’s still early and we’re trying to figure out exactly what happened.”

The National Health Service stated that there was a “significant” impact at King’s College, Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Trusts. These trusts run several hospitals in south London, as well clinics and doctor’s practices throughout a large part of the city.

In a memo sent to the staff, it was stated that the “critical incident had a major impact” on service delivery. Blood transfusions were particularly affected.

NHS England London Region said in a press release that they were “working urgently with support from the National Cyber Security Centre of the Government and our Cyber Operations Team to fully understand” the impact of this incident.

Oliver Dowson (70) was scheduled to undergo an operation at the Royal Brompton Hospital at 6am Monday, but a surgeon informed him at 12.30pm it wouldn’t happen.

He said that the staff didn’t know what happened. They just told many patients to go home to wait for a new appointment. “I have been given a new date for next week and I am crossing my hands.”

In ransomware attacks, criminals use malware to paralyze computer systems and then demand money in order to unlock them. Ransomware attacks are the most expensive and disruptive cybercrime. They cripple local governments, courts, hospitals, schools, and businesses. Most gangs are located in former Soviet countries and beyond the reach of Western Justice.

The state-funded British health system was hit in the past, including a ransomware attack on computers that shut down emergency rooms, closed wards and brought treatment to a standstill. – AP

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