Health Secretary failed to heed ‘warning signs’ before cyber attack hit NHS

Seoul [South Korea], May 14 : The National Health Service (NHS) failed to pay heed to repeated warnings that its old computer systems were vulnerable to cyber attack especially the one that affected it and spread across other countries a day before.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has been accused of ignoring "extensive warning signs" before the unprecedented cyber attack, The Telegraph reports.

Nearly five percent of the NHS' computers still use the Windows XP system, Windows 8 or Windows 10 variants - all are said to be vulnerable to new malware viruses developed by hackers - despite the Government ending its annual deal with Microsoft to provide ongoing security support for Windows XP in May 2015.

Experts say that "with no support deal in place Trusts were unable to have access to Microsoft's anti-virus 'patches' designed to foil precisely the sort of attack experienced on Friday," The Telegraph reports.

The incident is the "sort of thing for which the secretary of state should get roasted in the Parliament," Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University's computer lab, said.

"If large numbers of NHS organisations failed to act on a critical notice from Microsoft two months ago, then whose fault is that?" he added.

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Amber Rudd said Hunt had told health trusts to upgrade their software and most of them had.

But she added, "It is disappointing that they have been running Windows XP - I know that the Secretary of State for Health has instructed them not to and most have moved off it.".

Source: ANI