NHS cyber attack part of ‘wider international attack’: PM Theresa May

London [U.K.], May 13 : The cyber attack that hit the National Health Service (NHS) England is part of a wider international attack, British Prime Minister Theresa May has said.

She also said that there was no evidence that patient data had been compromised. "We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack.

This is not targetted at the NHS. It's an international attack and a number of countries and organisations have been affected," Prime Minister May said.

"The National Cyber Security Centre is working closely with NHS Digital to ensure that they support the organisations concerned and that they protect patient safety," she added, The Guardian reports.

Earlier, a number of hospitals across England were forced to divert emergency patients after being hit by a suspected cyber attack.

According to a report by The Guardian, hospitals across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit by a bug in their IT systems.

"I think what is important is that we have recognised that increasingly we need to be aware of the need to address cyber security issues, that's why the National Cyber Security Centre has been set up.

It is now able to work with the NHS to support the organisations concerned and to ensure that patient safety is protected," Prime Minister May further stated.

Cyber attacks are now being reported across many other countries, including Turkey, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan, with the majority of affected computers in Russia.

The computers all appear to be hit with the same ransomware, and similar ransom messages demanding about (Dollar) 300 to unlock their data, The New York Times reports.

The malware was circulated by email; targets were sent an encrypted, compressed file that, once loaded, allowed the ransomware to infiltrate its targets.

Portugal Telecom was also hit by a cyber attack but no services were impacted. "We were the target of an attack, like what is happening in all of Europe, a large scale-attack, but none of our services were affected," a Portugal Telecom spokeswoman said.

Several unconfirmed reports say there have been reports of infections in as many as 74 countries, including the U.S., China, Russia, Spain, Italy and Taiwan.

In England, the hackers demanded ransom in exchange of giving back access of PCs to the hospital. A pop-up message on computers told users that they can recover files, but only if they send USD 300 of bitcoin to a specific address.

The price will rise with time and the files will eventually be deleted, the warning read..

Source: ANI