Severe Ransomware Attack on London Hospitals

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Several major hospitals in London were victims of an ongoing cyberattack on a third-party lab provider, forcing them to send patients away and cancel services.

The UK’s National Health Services (NHS) said in a statement to Cybernews “On Monday, June 3rd, Synnovis, a provider of lab services, was the victim of a ransomware cyberattack.” Synnovis is considered one of the largest pathology service providers in the UK and provides services to NHS Foundation Trust facilities.

Synnovis CEO Mark Dollar released an official statement saying the attack has vast effects resulting in interruptions to many of their pathology services and emphasized that the lab takes its “cybersecurity very seriously” and “invests heavily” in its IT infrastructure.

According to Cybernews, the attack has left the hospitals unable to connect to Synnovis IT servers. The delay in delivering timely test results and diagnostic services caused many surgical operations to be canceled (including all transplant surgeries) due to a lack of blood transfusions.

This incident brought heavy criticism. Senior Technical Director of Norway-based cybersecurity firm Promon, Andrew Whaley, claimed that “a situation where patients can’t receive life-saving blood transfusions because the hospital isn’t equipped to defend against cyberattacks is simply unacceptable; the NHS is in critical condition without the threat of cyber warfare.” He added that healthcare organizations caring for millions of people should never have to find themselves struggling to function due to an IT issue.

The NHS reported that emergency services continue to operate, with some patients being redirected to other hospitals while others being sent home to wait for rescheduling instructions.

Cybernews reports that ransomware attacks on the healthcare industry are growing more and more common and severe, the spike possibly being attributed to the urgency of the field and the lives on the line. Whaley explained: “While no sector is invulnerable to these attacks… healthcare providers have proven time and time again that they’re the most willing to pay a ransom following these incidents.”

While the cause of the breach and the threat actors behind it are still unknown, the NHS said it will continue to provide updates for local patients and the public about the impact on services and how they can continue to get the care they need.