Feeds

NHS hospitals struggle to hold back the malware tide

Still ill

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

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. ®

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.