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NHS ransomware attack raises concerns about online security

17 May 2017 - 13:49 by Mike Price

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A global cyber attack which hit the NHS in the UK and millions of other organisations and users worldwide last week has shown just how easy it is for hackers to cause havoc if digital security is not taken seriously.

The Telegraph reports that although it was initially expected that the widespread attack originated from phishing emails, this has since been disputed by security experts looking into the matter.

The WannaCry virus caused major disruption following its outbreak, exploiting a known vulnerability in Microsoft’s Windows software and enabling attackers to encrypt all data on infected devices, demanding users pay a ransom in order to regain access to their information.

A patch has since been issued to prevent the exploit from succeeding in spreading even further, with even the now 16 year old Windows XP receiving an update, revealing the scale of the problem.

IT managers have now been urged to ensure that this patch is installed on all relevant devices. Meanwhile, home PC users are also encouraged to make sure that their version of Windows is up to date to avoid being hit.

In an age when thousands of retailers offer safe shopping online to customers, the prevalence of phishing scams and ransomware has become a major concern worldwide. Convincing, seemingly innocent messages sent to users can contain damaging code that is not only capable of infecting individual devices, but of leapfrogging onto any other connected computer sharing the same network.

Although phishing has been discounted as the cause in the case of the NHS attack, it is still a tactic of which consumers need to be aware if they want to carry out safe shopping online and avoid falling victim to the underhanded strategies of cybercriminals which could leave them out of pocket.