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UK hospitals in chaos after being hit by cyber attack

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Around 45 public health Organizations are still affected by a global cyberattack in the UK on May 13, 2017.

Britain's National Cyber Security Center has come under fire after a global cyber attack infiltrated thousands of antiquated computers and left dozens of hospitals in chaos across the country.

Around 45 public health organizations were affected by the attack on Saturday, according to British Home Secretary Amber Rudd, who said the attack froze computers at hospitals across the United Kingdom, with some canceling all routine procedures.

Rudd however claimed that no patient data had been stolen.

A malicious software known as “ransomware” hit organizations on Friday in at least 70 countries, including Britain, China, the United States, Spain, Russia, Italy, Taiwan, Vietnam and India.

The software locked up computers and held users' files for ransom.

It demands each user affected pay $300 (£232) in the internet currency Bitcoin, to have files restored. With thousands of NHS computers being affected, the ransom could potentially cost taxpayers millions.

Medics in the UK explained that with hospitals’ computer screens being “wiped out one by one” by the attack, doctors and nurses were left with any access to the patient’s medical histories, such as X-rays, blood tests and details such as allergies to medication.

Medics asked patients not to go to hospitals unless it was an emergency. Appointments and ambulances were also cancelled.  Patients awaiting heart surgery were among those who had operations cancelled. Doctors warned that the infiltration could even cost lives.

The National Cyber Security Center said teams are working "round the clock" to restore hospital computer systems. Two security firms also said they had identified the software behind the attack.

Reports by British media had indicated last year that most public health organizations were using an outdated version of Microsoft Windows that was not equipped with security updates. Experts said the outdated system has made the NHS vulnerable to cyber attacks.

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