WannaCry malware disables 40 NHS trusts

Published on: 15 May 2017

The UK government has issued fresh guidance on ransomware after an unprecedented cyber attack crippled up to 40 NHS trusts and disrupted activity at Nissan’s car plant in Sunderland.

To date, more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries have been infected by the WannaCry program, which encrypts the computer’s data until the victim pays $300 (£232) in bitcoin with three days or $600 within seven days.

Doctors warned that the attack, which exploits a weakness in the Windows XP operating system, could cost lives, with many NHS trusts having no option but to cancel operations.

The infection was brought under control after a kill switch was found hardcoded in the malware, however, a second version without the kill switch has since emerged.

The National Cyber Security Centre has urged users of Windows XP to run Windows Update, and execute a scan using their up-to-date antivirus product. They also advise home users and small businesses to back up important data to negate the threat of a ransom.

Meanwhile, enterprise administrators have been advised to deploy patch MSA17-010, downloadable from Microsoft’s website.