Feeds

NHS hospitals struggle to hold back the malware tide

Still ill

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Malware infection problems at NHS hospitals are a more serious problem than isolated reports of infestation might suggest, according to an investigation by More4 News.

Last November an infection by the MyTob worm created huge administrative headaches at three London hospitals - Barts, the Royal London and the London Chest Hospital - that are part of the same NHS Trust. The infection forced the hospitals to briefly reroute ambulances and disrupted hospital administration while the infection was being contained. Some medical staff had to resort to pen and paper backup systems.

A subsequent inquiry blamed a failure to follow basic information security procedures for the infection.

Other incidents include infection by PCs at a Sheffield hospital with the infamous Conficker worm, as first reported by El Reg. Worse still it's now emerged that these two incidents are far from isolated cases, but are instead symptomatic of wider information security shortcomings across the NHS.

The issue is of particular concern because it arises at a time when the NHS is rolling out an £13bn electronic patient records system that will place greater reliance on IT systems in delivering patient care.

More4 News polled every NHS trust in England for information on whether they experienced a computer virus infection over the last financial year. The survey revealed that 8,000 computer viruses had infected NHS computers over the survey period and, more significantly, recorded 12 incidents where clinical departments had been hit. Three in four trusts responded to the survey.

The trusts obliged to deal with malware infections include Basingstoke & North Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Poole, Bradford Teaching Hospitals and Leeds Teaching Hospitals. The impact of viral infections varied.

In Newcastle, for example, a malware infection left staff unable to use administrative systems and resulted in a three week appointments backlog. A hundred admin workers were prevented from using their computers at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells following a separate infection. By contrast, an infection at West Middlesex Trust only affected a single dictaphone, More4 News reports.

It adds that, in many cases, malware infection occurred because anti-virus systems were either disabled or not properly updated. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
Kill off SSL 3.0 NOW: HTTPS savaged by vicious POODLE
Pull it out ASAP, it is SWISS CHEESE
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.