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16.05.17

Trusts told to remain vigilant with updated cyber-attack guidance

NHS Digital has recommended a number of measures for trusts to implement to protect themselves from cyber-attack after Friday saw trusts across the country targeted by hackers.

The attack led to around 40 trusts across the country being shut down by what’s known as ransomware – a virus that locks the user out of their computer unless they pay a fee to regain access.

The attack meant that scheduled appointments were pushed back and many trusts struggled to deal with patient demand.

NHS Digital has announced updated guidelines on protecting against future cyber-attacks including instructions to install a patch to protect systems against further attacks and malicious viruses.

The organisation also confirmed that it was safe to connect to the service’s internal email system, NHSmail, after work was completed by experts to ensure servers were ready to use.

The organisation also recommended that trusts ensure security software patches were up-to-date and that up-to-date virus software was also being used.  Warnings were also given to not open email attachments or click links in unfamiliar or suspicious emails.

The organisation told trusts: “Our Data Security Centre continues to work around the clock alongside the National Cyber Security Centre, to support NHS organisations that have reported any issues related to this cyber-attack.

“In addition to protective real-time monitoring of national NHS IT services and systems, which were unaffected by this issue, we are supporting NHS organisations by undertaking cyber security testing and providing bespoke advice and action points.

“We are also offering training for their health and care staff to ensure they know the simple steps to help to keep their organisation secure.

“If you have questions about whether your organisation is affected or what guidance you should follow locally, please contact your organisation’s IT helpdesk.”

The attack also follows an NHE investigation at the start of the year that found that over the past four years, the rate of attacks suffered by trusts had quadrupled.

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