UK's health service hit by ransomware attack

The infections have disabled more than a dozen hospitals in the United Kingdom, Spain's largest telecom company and universities in Italy as well as some FedEx computers.

A Telefonica spokesman told Reuters that a window appeared on its computers also demanding a bitcoin payment in order to regain control. After that, the price would be doubled.

The UK's National Health Service appears to have suffered a major hacking attack.

Avast has recorded over 50,000 attacks globally as of Friday afternoon. The number of such attacks increased 50% in 2016, according to an April report from Verizon Communications Inc.

There are reports that trusts affected include North Cumbria, Morecambe Bay hospitals, Blackpool, Barts Health in London and Greater Manchester.

Romania's intelligence service says it has intercepted an attempted cyberattack on a government institution which it said likely came from cybercriminal group APT28 also known as Fancy Bear.

The ransomware warns that it will increase its demands if the ransom isn't paid within three days, and warns that files will be deleted for good in a week's time.

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Two security firms - Kaspersky Lab and Avast - said they had identified the malware behind the attack in upward of 70 countries, although both said the attack has hit Russian Federation hardest.

"The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor", the statement said. "We have activated our major incident plan to make sure we can maintain the safety and welfare of patients", said Barts in a statement.

NHS Digital said the NHS itself was not specifically the target of the attack but part of a wider "Wanna Decryptor" ransomware campaign. It said it was working to resolve the problem.

This payment is a typical amount for ransomware aimed at targeting a lot of domestic users: It's an attainable sum that victims could be willing to pay to retrieve their files.

NHS hospitals across the North, East and West Midlands, and London are reporting IT failures, in some cases meaning there is no way of operating phones or computers. Organisations must start thinking along different lines about how we deal with such breaches, especially those handling sensitive information.

"Patients are asked for understanding whilst the issue is resolved". Operations were canceled, emergency room services were scaled down, and medical personnel went back to using handwritten notes.

We just don't understand the mentality of some people.

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