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Did The Russians Just Hack Our NHS?

NHS Cyber Attack Crisis - Russian Hacking Foreign Power Question

Our NHS is under attack – and not by the Evil Tories, for once!

Newspaper and television news networks are now reporting a major cyber attack targeting NHS England hospitals – apparently all systems are down and an emergency has been declared to initiate backup/recovery processes.

From the Guardian:

A number of hospitals have been hit by a large scale cyber attack, NHS England has confirmed.

Hospitals across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit by a bug in their IT systems, leading to many diverting emergency patients. NHS England said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon.

Meanwhile doctors have been posting on Twitter about what has been happening to their systems.

A screen grab of a instant message conversation circulated by one doctor says: “So our hospital is down … We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money. And now everything is gone.”

This is obviously potentially very serious, with possible impacts on patient care – apparently local NHS hospitals are reverting to pen and paper, while tweeting that patients should avoid going to A&E.

Was this a coordinated attack by a foreign power, or is it simply the case of a dozy NHS office admin clicking a dodgy link in an email and falling prey to a traditional money-grubbing scam?

(The answer is almost certainly the latter – this time. NHS Digital itself has confirmed that the generic ransomware attack was not specifically targeted at the health service, as a number of other organisations in multiple regions and sectors are affected; so the outraged NHS priests and priestesses on Twitter calling for the execution or maiming of these hackers can probably stand down now).

But since politicians and armchair pundits have been quick to blame Russia for everything else that hasn’t gone their way lately, I’m sure that Vladimir Putin’s name will be put forward as the man behind this craven attack on Our Blessed NHS.

But Putin should be careful – while Britain and the international community will apparently sit on our hands and dither while he invades Ukraine and drags his country ever further backward toward nationalist authoritarianism, provoking a fight with the NHS might be a step too far.

Even Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party election manifesto reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, with great cautionin extremis. Well, since the National Health Service is the closest thing we now have to a religion in secular Britain, attacking Our Blessed NHS may be the one hostile act by a foreign power that could still rouse half the country to press the red “launch” button and fire off some Trident missiles.

But when the dust settles, it may be worth considering that yet another drawback of having a monolithic national healthcare system serving all 65 million people in Britain is that it represents a singular target for mischief-makers and hostile foreign powers alike.

Presumably GCHQ and other agencies are constantly on the case protecting Britain’s national energy grid and other core infrastructure. But as a country have we been so busy singing endless hymns of praise to “Our NHS” that we neglected to realise that it has also potentially become our national security Achilles heel?

At this grave time, let us all repeat the Pledge of Allegiance to Aneurin Bevan’s glorious creation, our country’s pride and joy:

I pledge allegiance to the logo of Our #NHS
The envy of the world
One health system, indivisible
With increasingly poor healthcare outcomes for all

And when NHS England has fixed the problem and we have all made ourselves feel good by cheering on the saintly people who work in the world’s fifth largest bureaucracy, maybe we can have a sensible conversation about breaking up the NHS monopoly – for the good of all patients and, apparently, our national security too.

 

NHS Logo - Cross - National Religion - Worship - Idolatry

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12 responses

  1. “while Britain and the international community will apparently sit on our hands and dither while he invades Ukraine”

    If you mean the Crimea, then that was ceded to Ukraine by Kruschev in 1954 under internal soviet reorganisation, (Kruschev had a Ukrainian mother). It has been the home of the Black Sea Fleet since 1703. Most of those in Crimea are Russians, not Ukrainians. All this was brought about by the EU meddling in Ukrainian affairs by offering them an “Association Agreement” which also contained clauses about “security” The EU did all this and other acts in direct contradiction of the Budapest Memorandum. Then you wonder why the Russians reacted as they did. Really?

    Don’t misinterpret me, I have no time for Putin and his cohorts, but in this instance he was actually in the right, and it is the EU + US that are in the wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t disagree with you, and Russian affairs was not the focus of this partly tongue-in-cheek piece. The EU’s cack-handed efforts to enlarge its already excessive and illegitimate sphere of influence was certainly a provocation to Russia, and equally no such provocation should justify the response which Russia made. I’ll be very happy to see the day when the EU finally collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions and unearned self-importance on the world stage, but whether the EU and US were right or wrong to push their luck as far as they did, I think one must admit that we were taken aback by the Russian response and mishandled it in a way which emboldened Putin further.

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      • Fair enough Sam. Strangely I failed to spot the tongue-in-cheek tone. Mea Culpa.

        I guess I’m getting a little tired of the “Russia did it” tone of the MSM. Everything from the US elections, the French elections and God only knows what else. Talk about fake news writ large. They are by no means paragons of virtue, but they’ve have had to be going like the clappers to have had their fingers in so many pies 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What I found interesting was a report on the BBC from a hospital that said A&E in that hospital was deserted. Now did all those people with a sore leg or cut finger decide to stay home until the IT problem was fixed (in which case they didn’t need to go to A&E) or did they go to the local pharmacy instead. Perhaps people don’t need to go to A&E as much as they think they do.

    Liked by 1 person

    • A very valid point. Unfortunately, the dogmatic commitment to “free at the point of use” – with not so much as a small co-pay to discourage time wasters who could otherwise afford non-essential care – means that as soon as the newspapers give the “all clear”, people will be back visiting A&E as an almost social event rather than out of healthcare necessity.

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  3. You’re so right about the Blessed NHS, otherwise known as the BBH – Big Black Hole! Having had to spend some time recently in a NHS hospital I spent the time noting the waste going on all around me – wishing I’d gone into the rubber glove or paper towel manufacturing business a long time ago. I’d be very rich by now, as I’m sure those businesses are. Or the sheet laundering business or whatever. Wherever I looked I saw profligate waste, which did nothing for my blood pressure or stress levels. Perhaps if waste could be cut, at so many levels, they could afford the cost of better cyber security systems. The problem is so large because the NHS itself is so large that no-one knows
    where to start although I do seem to remember a small fortune was spent some years ago on a completely new computer system!! It is perhaps time to look at what you suggested which would be to break up this monolithic giant into smaller units (anyone remember the good, old cottage hospitals?) No, not really – I recognise that modern medicine requires specialist units for MRI & CT scans and such like but one hears such horror stories of procurement costs where one item (can’t remember what it was) was something like 10 times the price the same item would cost on any High Street. So, we should grasp the nettle before it disappears up its own black hole, don’t you think?

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  4. Couldn’t the enthusiastic supporters of the NHS simply crowdfund to pay the ransom demanded?

    Surely if it saves the life of just one child it will be worth it?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Employee data:
    Peoples liberation army of China VS Wallmart @ 1.3m each!

    China: Missiles ready – fire!
    Wallmart: Cleanup trolley to aisle six please.

    Like

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