The Yorkshire and Humber Regional Cyber Crime Unit are investigating a cyber attack which crippled the computer system of three hospitals a week before in the UK.

Thousands of patients had their operations and appointments cancelled at Isle hospital after a computer virus attack on October 30. National Health Service Trust’s computer network was shut down immediately after the attack to combat infection though the IT services were restored on November 02 but at least 35 patients had their operations cancelled across three hospitals in Goole, Grimsby and Scunthorpe. The trust, which runs Scunthorpe General Hospital and Goole and District Hospital, cancelled appointments and operations also on October 31 and November 01.

While the inpatients were continued to be taken care of, major trauma cases and high-risk women in labour were diverted to neighbouring hospitals.However, now Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust (NLAG) is back online and some appointments in speciality areas, such as audiology physiological measurements, antenatal, community and therapy, chemotherapy, paediatrics and gynaecology went ahead on Nov 02.

Normal services across the three hospitals were resumed on November 3 after an hourly inspection.

The hospital hasn’t revealed how it fell victim to a cyber attack but the investigating officers have been “working closely to help provide protection against any future attacks,” said investigating officer Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith.

After this incident the “NHS digital is taking action by extending its computer emergency response team, CareCERT, which helps reduce vulnerability to cyber attacks and helps take decisive action to reduce the impact of a data security incident, if it does occur,” said a Department of Health spokesperson.

This attack on a UK hospital’s IT system isn’t the first, and the British government has announced plans to combat such attacks by spending £1.9 billion to enhance cyber security. Just this February, a California hospital paid nearly $100,000 to a ransomware attacker. Also, 28 of the 29 NHS trusts that shared data with the request had suffered ransomware attacks last year.

Medical facilities are usual preys to cyber attacks due to the sensitive nature of the data they store and the urgency of healthcare services thus attracting cybercriminals like bees to honey.

As our lives are increasingly becoming dependent on the internet, it has become the need of the hour to invest in ways to protect ourselves and the future of the internet.

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