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UK government considers action against Russian hackers for stealing NHS records | NHS

UK government considers action against Russian hackers for stealing NHS records |  NHS
UK government considers action against Russian hackers for stealing NHS records |  NHS


The government is considering a counterattack against Russian hackers who stole records of 300 million patients' interactions with the NHS, including blood test results for HIV and cancer, the Guardian can reveal.

The National Crime Agency (NCA) is considering the possibility of taking retaliatory action against Qilin, the Russia-based ransomware gang that placed huge amounts of highly sensitive NHS records stolen in a cyberattack on Friday morning into the public domain. June 3

Health service chiefs in London, where the hack was concentrated, responded to widespread alarm by setting up a helpline to answer questions from patients disturbed by Qilin's actions.

They urged patients who may have received details of treatment they received from affected NHS trusts and GP surgeries in south-east London not to contact their local hospitals or GP practices to ask whether their data had been affected by the attack. Please keep this information.

Qilin's actions, which indicated that a reported ₩50 million ($40 million) ransom demand had been ignored, sparked discussions between the NCA and the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) on how to respond. GCHQ, the government communications centre, is believed to be aware of these conversations.

A source with knowledge of the options being explored said: There are experts [NCA] A team working to access, understand, and remove data where possible.

The source added that the NCA is considering measures to remove as much of the data Qilin put on the messaging platform in the early hours of Friday morning. Is it being investigated and what is possible? [Action is likely because] This is effectively an attack on the country.

Cybersecurity sources said the impact of operations to retrieve or delete data could be lessened if the Qilin gang had already copied the files and were able to post them elsewhere.

UK law enforcement has set a precedent of dealing directly with ransomware gangs. The gang poses a challenge to authorities because it is known to operate in Russia and former Soviet Union countries.

However, the NCA recently disrupted the operations of the LockBit group, the world's largest ransomware organization, through a joint operation with international partners.

In February, the agency said it had seized LockBit's entire command and control unit, including the leak site that displayed data hacked by victims. The operation also controlled the infrastructure behind LockBits' ransomware-as-a-service operation, where affiliates rent malicious software or malware that infiltrates and disables victims' computer systems.

The operation was carried out jointly with the FBI, Europol and the International Police Coalition and uncovered the identity of the alleged leader of the gang, Russian national Dmitry Koroshev.

The Guardian revealed on Friday that hackers had stolen far more data than previously thought. They obtained records covering 300 million patient interactions with the NHS, including blood test results for HIV and cancer.

The attack caused significant disruption to seven hospitals run by Kings College Hospital Foundation Trust and Guys and St Thomas Foundation Trust. They are two of the largest and busiest health care providers. Qilin targeted Synnovis, a private/NHS joint venture that provides pathology services such as blood tests and transfusions. Synnovis also carries out work for other NHS trusts in the UK, so it is unclear whether the hack involved only hospitals within those trusts or was more widespread.

NHS England London Region said on Thursday that in the first 13 days after the attack, the two trusts had had to cancel 1,134 planned surgeries, including cancer and transplant surgeries, and postpone 2,194 outpatient appointments.

It is not yet clear exactly what data the ransomware group released or how much data it collected. However, according to sources, the stolen data included details of blood test results conducted on patients who had undergone various surgeries, including organ transplants. People suspected of having a sexually transmitted disease; The same was true for those who received blood transfusions.

NHS England said in a statement on Friday that the NCA and NCSC were working to verify data contained in files released by criminals. Because these files are not simple uploads, investigations of this nature are very complex and can take weeks to complete.

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But the sheer volume and sensitive nature of the data obtained by Qilin, and the gang making public at least some of it, has raised alarm among NHS bosses.

NHS England has now warned patients could be targeted by criminals demanding ransom, saying: You should always be on guard if you are approached by someone claiming to have your data and any other suspicious calls or emails, especially if you are asked to provide personal information. Or financial data.

It added that anyone contacted in relation to their NHS data should call Action Fraud immediately.

The NHS Accident Helpline launched on Friday and is available on 0345 8778967.

Additionally, in a development that will cause anxiety among patients who have received private medical care in recent years, Giraffe's Howl is understood to include records of examinations received from several private medical institutions. It is unclear which private healthcare companies Synnovis, a joint venture between pathology company Synlab and two London acute hospital trusts, will fit into, and whether these include operators of capital arrays of private hospitals.

The NHS is working hard to transfer as much scope of care as possible to other providers and last week succeeded in increasing the amount of blood tests it can carry out from 10% of usual to 30%.

The fact that Qilin has blocked Synnovis from its IT systems means its hospitals and GP surgeries, which care for two million patients, will still have to severely restrict access to blood tests. They can only do 30% of what they normally do.

Tim Mitchell, a senior researcher at cybersecurity firm Secureworks, said publishing the data was a sign that the negotiating period was over. In most cases, ransomware negotiations are typically over when data is exfiltrated, he said.

Synnovis did not confirm whether it had negotiated with Qilin.




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