NSA tools at center of ransomware attacks hitting UK hospitals: report

A widespread ransomware attack hit multiple European countries on Friday, locking up computers and ransoming access in exchange for large Bitcoin payments, and also hit the UK’s National Health Service, affecting computers at hospitals and doctors’ offices.

Screenshots shared of the attack show the ransomware program Wanna Cry was used. Officials noted that the attack that the NHS was not specifically targeted in the attack and that the attack was “affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.”

The attack on UK hospitals is significant in how it’s affected the hospitals’ ability to treat emergency patients. According to The Guardian, schedules, patient files, and phone and email systems have been blocked from access and there is rerouting of emergency patients taking place.  

In their statement on the attacks, the NHS noted that they do not believe patient data was accessed as part of the attack.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that the NHS attack was part of the attack that was affecting other businesses around the world.

Multiple media reports, including from the New York Times and the Financial Times, have said that the attack was executed using a Windows exploit developed and used by the NSA and later leaked by the Shadow Brokers group.

The malware in question allowed the user to access computers running anything earlier than Windows 10. Microsoft later said this exploit was fixed by a security patch.  

One expert tweeted that there had been thousands of reports of attacks across many European and Asian countries. 

Another map indicated that some of the attacks had even hit locations in the United States.

Spanish telecommunications company Telefónica was another victim of the attacks, according to a Spanish news report. 

This is a developing story…

UPDATE (2:15 pm ET): Updated to include confirmation that attack on NHS service in UK was part of the larger attack and that leaked NSA tool was used in the attack.

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