Sixteen hospitals had to divert patients to other facilities today after a wave of ransomware encrypted vital documents. The 16 hospitals are spread throughout the United Kingdom. The National Health Service has advised patients not to seek medical help except for emergencies and acute ailments.
While it’s not known for sure how or why the ransomware was able to spread so fast, one possible culprit is a recently-patched vulnerability in Windows operating systems.
The strain of ransomware is a pretty new one called WannaCry. It acts like any other ransomware, encrypting files until the victim pays a ransom in Bitcoin, although with WannaCry the malware is relatively easy to clean. Unfortunately, that does nothing to unlock the encrypted files.
WannaCry also hit one of Spain’s biggest telecoms, Telefonica, today. They sent messages to employees to turn off their computers and even their VPN connections to limit the spread of the ransomware.
The National Health Service believes that patient data has not been stolen, which would be the small silver lining in this.