back to article World-leading heart hospital 'very, very lucky' to dodge ransomware hit

World-leading Papworth Hospital has escaped a full-on zero-day crypto ransomware attack thanks to the "very, very lucky" timing of its daily backup. It's believed that an on-duty nurse at the heart and lung hospital in Cambridgeshire, UK, unwittingly clicked on something in an infected email, activating the attack at about …

  1. Daedalus Silver badge

    OMFG

    Yet again we have to ask why mission critical systems are on the same network as vulnerable e-mail clients, and why said clients don't enforce ruthless discrimination against unidentified attachments and links.

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      Re: OMFG

      I'll get downvoted for this but the simple answer is that clinicians wouldn't stand for it. Easy access to everything allows them to get on with treating patients and every clinician loves their e-mail.

      Apart from anything else network controls should limit damage malware can do, that's assuming it can run in the first place which is something many NHS trusts/boards/CCGs are managing to block using application whitelisting, sandboxing etc.

      1. Joe User

        Re: OMFG

        Easy access to everything allows them to get on with treating patients and every clinician loves their e-mail.

        That same easy access allows malware to run rough-shod over their data.

        1. Halfmad Silver badge

          Re: OMFG

          But as a clinician why would they give a **** ? That's the responsibility of I.T. after all, it's a constant battle as someone stuck in the middle to try to maintain some level of common sense.

          1. Peter2 Silver badge

            Re: OMFG

            "As for ransomware, how do you stop it when you have a shoestring budget preventing a proper prevention strategy and the most likely zero point is over your head?"

            I'm on a shoestring budget. Here's how I stop them.

            1) Write a list of what programs your users use that are not installed in the /program files directory. These are typically programs that "run" from the network. Create a list of network paths that need to be executable.

            1A) Check the security permissions of the executables on network shares. Do the users *need* to be able to overwrite your executables, potentially with a Trojan that everybody then accesses via a shortcut when they try to login to $program in the morning? This is allowed by default, but the default is stupid. Consider changing it if you don't require users to do this.

            2) Create a new Group Policy Object. Goto the Security Restriction Policy options. Change the default level from "unrestricted" to "disallowed". Whereas before any program would run anywhere with no questions asked, now programs by default will pop up a message saying essentially "Sorry Dave, I can't let you do that" unless the program is on the exceptions list. Your list already includes %program files% by default, so you only need to add network paths where people need to be able to execute .exe files. Add the paths that you gathered at step one.

            3) You need to download some additional extra GPO bits. There are GPO addons for Office, and Adobe. You want the Office ones to prevent Macro's from running, and the Adobe one to disable scripting. Have a look at EMET5.5 while your thinking about security. Nice freebie, but probably too much effort for most people to install since it needs doing on each computer.

            4) Assign the new policy object to your desktop, and check you haven't prevented things from running. When your sure that you haven't, roll this out to a handful of users, then to wider groups, and then to everybody, having added the programs that you forgot about that only two users used.

            Money required from management, £0.00. All that is required is your time. It's now impossible to:-

            1) Run any file that is vaguely executable (.exe, .pif, .bat, .scr, .etc) which is not in program files or in an authorised directory.

            2) Have macro's in MS office ruin your day. (or if Macros are in use, digitally sign them and run only macros signed by you)

            3) Have PDF documents running scripting on your computer as well as just displaying a document.

            With a spend of zero, your network is now hardened to the point of being impervious against your users running trojans. Your users are unaffected by the security precautions that you have just taken, since they only become apparent when they try and do something like running a program attached to an email or on external media.

            The only real downside is that executable autoruns on CD's will now fail, you could enable these through putting in path exceptions for your CD drives if your organisation security policy allows running random potential zero day viruses from external media sent from outside the company. Given the option, our top management went for complete paranoia and disabling any potential threat.

            Ultimately though, if your being given solutions (even good ones) to implement then your doing it wrong. What you should do is what I did to get to where I am, which is sit down with a pen and paper and consider what threats you face, and how you can mitigate against each of those entry vectors/threats.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: OMFG

              "your network is now hardened to the point of being impervious against your users running trojans. Your users are unaffected by the security precautions that you have just taken, since they only become apparent when they try and do something like running a program attached to an email or on external media."

              OK so far. Now what about the rest?

              How, exactly, does your suggestion help protect against the apparently never ending stream of exploits that use authorised (non-blacklisted) executables and just require the user to access a specially crafted JPG, PDF, web page, or whatever. In the case of a web page, it might even be served up by a whitelisted website, especially if the whitelisted website serves 3rd party adverts and isn't accessed with the aid of an ad-blocker or script blocker. Then how does your strategy help?

              ""consider what threats you face, and how you can mitigate against each of those entry vectors/threats.""

              Exactly. Consider what you do about approved applications with as-yet unknown vulnerabilities which can be exploited by permissible (and often necessary) data formats. What's your mitigation there?

              Start again, please.

              It's not rocket science, but apparently to some people it might as well be.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: OMFG

              "I'm on a shoestring budget. Here's how I stop them."

              How on earth does that stop them?

              You haven't even identified different groups of users with different sets of access rights to different sets of data. Y'know, a scheme where people's access (a user's access) to data depends on their role within the organisation, and where their activities can be authenticated, authorised, and logged accordingly.

              You definitely haven't deployed an OS with a securely implemented scheme for rights management and object access control and trustworthy audit logging facilities.

              Is that too much to ask for?

              All you've done is provide a false sense of security, which sadly seems to work well for lots of IT people.

      2. Christian Berger Silver badge

        Re: OMFG

        "Easy access to everything allows them to get on with treating patients and every clinician loves their e-mail."

        Yes, but seriously it's not a conflict between "easy access" and security. It's a conflict between stupidity and security. If you can just stop people from being stupid you'll have solved most of the problem.

        Just like there are basic safety standards for things like light fixtures, the NHS could enforce those for the software they use. Since software security doesn't really cost money (only features) that should be easy to do.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: OMFG

          If you can just stop people from being stupid you'll have solved most of the problem.

          OK, I'm getting really, really tired of this meme, so let me give you the benefit of close to 3 decades of experience in dealing with security, people and protecting organisations including military and governments (hence anon).

          Stop treating people as a variable you can just tweak to your satisfaction. You should accept they are your reality, so stop blaming them and start working on ways to incorporate that established reality into your work, otherwise you are quite frankly busy finding excuses for not doing your job.

          Working on any model of protection starts with accepting current realities. Yes, there are things you can change but, trust me on this, people are not part of that helpful set. You can tweak them a bit, but you will find that over time they will meander back to that mean value - in short, seeking to change them is wasting time and resources for frankly appallingly little benefit.

          Now, ransomware. Assume that your users WILL open these emails, irrespective of how much advertising, training and awareness campaigns you throw at them. Start with wondering how it is possible that they can run unauthorised executables and work from there.

          Just stop the excuses already.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: OMFG

            You can't work that way because Murphy means you MUST assume EVERYONE is a Darwin Award candidate with Domino Effect potential. The one you ignore or are forced to overlook WILL be the one that destroys you.

            As for ransomware, how do you stop it when you have a shoestring budget preventing a proper prevention strategy and the most likely zero point is over your head?

            Put it this way. Try stopping the Black Death with nothing but a net.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Stop treating people as a variable

            Upvoted.

            We can try the best to educate users, but plan for the eventual failing of that effort.

            If we could wish for people to be less clueless we could also wish for criminals to be less criminals?

            1. Terry 6 Silver badge

              Re: Stop treating people as a variable

              Politicians less political?

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: they can run unauthorised executables

            "Start with wondering how it is possible that they can run unauthorised executables "

            Actually in quite a few places I'm familiar with, it might also be interesting to wonder *why* people think they *need* to run "unauthorised" code to do their jobs (non-work-related stuff is a different matter). The answers might be interesting inside and outside the IT department.

            But eliminating unauthorised executables still leaves a zillion vulnerabilities (known and unknown) in the authorised executable list. You want to blacklist Outlook or Word or even Acrobat, good luck with that. But if that's not done, the vulnerabilities still exist, whether the IT Department like it or not.

          4. Christian Berger Silver badge

            Re: OMFG

            Well even if you cannot change people themselves, you can easily influence their behaviour. How many people do you know that got electrocuted by their household appliances? With all those appliances around, that must be a high number, doesn't it? The fact that this number is rather low is that household appliances are designed to prevent you from doing stupid things. You cannot simply touch any conductors inside, because they are encased in plastic.

            However in computing there is no sense for security. Yes we tell people not to execute code from the Internet, yet when you click on a link to download an executable in your browser, it'll actually offer you to execute it right away. That's a stupid thing that should never have been offered. Same goes for all kinds of app containers like apk or flatpack. If you click on a link, and your system will install software that's a _really_ bad thing.

            Instead you can make stupid things hard and provide safer alternatives. This then will influence people into not doing stupid things. Also make sure that the things they actually need to do (e.g. opening PDF files) is as safe as possible (e.g. not using a feature complete PDF reader).

            BTW the stupidity doesn't always just lie on the end user side, often it's also in the IT departments. Just think of the many computers that have office software installed without needing it, or Acrobat Reader when a more secure PDF reader would be good enough.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: OMFG

              "household appliances are designed to prevent you from doing stupid things."

              That's a very 20th century remark, which seems increasingly inapplicable to various modern pieces of consumer electronics and even white goods (and other stuff).

              Expect increasing accident rates as the years go by and appliances are designed more by the "industrial design" people and less by actual clued up engineers.

              This applies particularly to software-based systems in recent decades; far too much software is not fit for purpose, defective by design, and yet it's extremely rare for anyone to be held accountable for providng or procuring stuff that isn't fit for purpose.

              1. Alan Johnson

                Re: OMFG

                "Expect increasing accident rates as the years go by and appliances are designed more by the "industrial design" people and less by actual clued up engineers.

                This applies particularly to software-based systems in recent decades; far too much software is not fit for purpose, defective by design, and yet it's extremely rare for anyone to be held accountable for providng or procuring stuff that isn't fit for purpose."

                Yes a lot of poor software is and will continue to be created but not very little of it has any safety impact.

                I would be surprised if the SW in a home appliance was required to operate correctly to ensure safety. It is still engineers who are responsible for making things work and pass the appropriate regulatory requirements. Demonstrating that the requirmenst for functional safety for SW are met is rightly very demanding which is why designers avoid it unless absolutely necessary. I do not know what you have against industrial designers but in the real world they work in a team with the engineers. My prediction is that despite an every increasing number of devices overall accident rates decline due to the slow accumulation of knowledge and experience and improvement of regulations and design.

          5. Locky Silver badge

            Re: Stop treating people as a variable

            Much as I hate the "why have a dog and bark yourself" attitude, this is very true.

            <massgenerlisation>

            It's our job to design, build and secure IT environments

            It's their job to help people with very serious heart conditions

            Trying to either side to do the others job isn't going to end well

            </massgenerlisation>

          6. dajames Silver badge

            Re: OMFG

            Start with wondering how it is possible that they can run unauthorised executables and work from there.

            They probably aren't "running executables" at all. It's far more likely that they are opening an EMail attachment that contains an image or other binary file that has been specially crafted to take advantage of a bug in the software on the PC that displays that kind of file, and by exploiting the bug the attachment gains execution access, possibly with elevated privileges.

            Short of blocking all attachments, the only defence against this sort of attack is to run only bug-free software, and we all know how hard that is to come by!

      3. Korev Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: OMFG

        I'll get downvoted for this but the simple answer is that clinicians wouldn't stand for it.

        You're (depressingly) both right and wrong! 0 down so far and I've just added the 17th upvote.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: OMFG

      I've found it relatively easy to set up secure systems as demanded by management - the same management that demands it taken down because they are too bloody stupid and lazy to follow their own rules. However I'd still imagine that 80% or more of the files could easily be un-encryptable as there is no reason to modify most data.

  2. Adam 52 Silver badge

    Just how did a nurse's account have permission to cause any significant damage?

    Does the NHS just run full permission to everyone, presumably including medical records (or at least patient->specialist relationships, which is effectively the same thing.

    1. Halfmad Silver badge

      As someone working within the NHS I can honestly say it varies massively. My own NHS don't, it's highly restricted but still reliant on the NHS Mail system which itself was letting through a ton of ransomware e-mails at the tail end of last year, thankfully better now.

      The bigger problem tends to be access to personal e-mail, required by students and typically it's attachments from those which cause the problem. However with proper network controls the damage ransomware can do should be extremely limited and quickly rectified - that's assuming it doesn't just start uploading that information - which is the nightmare scenario for many of us.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Maybe they shouldn't be using the same email system for both communication between fellow clinicians and the general public. There should be an internal and an external one.

        The internal one requires that secure messaging standards (S/MIME or OpenPGP; the former might be somewhat easier for the NHS) be used: on sensitive machines, they only have access to the internal system.

        Then they can email their colleagues internally just as they ordinarily could… digitally signed so they know the email hasn't been spoofed, and possibly encrypted to for patient privacy.

        The external one talks to the outside world, and is only accessed from suitably protected endpoints. Those same systems could have access to the internal one so you can forward information to people on the internal network after manual checking.

        Least then, the malware has limited reach.

        Then again, paper does not have these problems… the other solution would be that they walk around with pencil and paper and record things the old way. Sure, use the computer system to transfer the data from place to place, but hold onto some paper records for as long as it takes to ensure the digital copy is safely backed up.

        1. Adrian Midgley 1

          You overestimate the familiarity

          Nhs people have with such things.

        2. Adam JC

          Our local NHS Trust uses Cisco Ironport's for everything outbound, not sure about the rest.

          ANY email that's sent out is encrypted by default. If you want to send non-sensitive e-mails you have to placed [DONOTENCRYPT] anywhere in the subject. They also had DLP keyword triggers which placed the email in a queue if it contained any number of patterns (e.g NHS Patient numbers, and so on).

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: paper does not have these problems

          Nor does a properly designed and run computer system, especially one with fewer privilege escalation vulnerabilities than the legacy OS (and applications) in widespread use in the NHS.

          As noted elsewhere, why does Joe/Joanna Random User have any access rights to change other people's data? Maybe they didn't, if an unauthorised privilege escalation is in the picture.

          This stuff shouldn't be rocket science. What happened here shouldn't be acceptable either, and any costs should be charged back to the people who provided the system (and to those who signed it off as acceptable). That might start to change behaviours a bit.

      2. Korev Silver badge

        The bigger problem tends to be access to personal e-mail, required by students and typically it's attachments from those which cause the problem.

        Would blocking gmail, hotmail etc. whilst whitelisting *.ac.uk, *.edu and other universities'* email servers work in this scenario?

        * I know this gets a bit complicated in places like France or Switzerland, but should be doable.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "Just how did a nurse's account have permission to cause any significant damage?"

      Depends who they are. A senior nurse with many years of training and experience can easily outrank some doctors. And don't forget, the article described it as a "zero day" so maybe it was a privilege escalation attack.

      A friends daughter is a nurse. She has two degrees. She's a senior Sister and orders doctors around every day. That's part of her job.

      1. Halfmad Silver badge

        From an access perspective that would give them perhaps consultant level access to clinical systems but no greater access to file shares etc than most staff.

        Rank of employee in the NHS tends not to mean much when it comes to configuration of I.T. equipment.

  3. Dabooka Silver badge
    Meh

    Is it a sign of the times..

    or a predication of the future that I read that as 'Northern Lincolnshire and Google NHS foundation trust'?

    1. Bert 1
      Thumb Down

      Re: Is it a sign of the times..

      I just read your comment, saw the highlighted letter, and thought (in order)

      But that IS how you spell it.

      Has El Reg made a typo ?

      OMG, perhaps the g wasn't there in the first place.

      That would make, erm, Goole. That's a place!

      I'll go back and check the article!

      Have an upvote

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: Is it a sign of the times..

        Indeed there is such a place - I used to travel through it a lot on the train in the 1980s on my way to university in Hull, and always had a titter at the brick water tower. All it needs is a couple of goolies at the bottom.

        http://www.goole.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/water-towers.jpg

  4. James 51 Silver badge

    Lots of wards are running XP. Even if the accounts are setup correctly, when you're running something that old there are going to be cracks criminals can creep through.

    BTW those systems have email because it's how the different departments sent each other results e.g. get an x-ray and the image is emailed to the consultant before you can walk back to their office.

    1. Adam 52 Silver badge

      I will take a small wager that whatever hit them wasn't able to do privilege escalation on a patched remote server just because it happened to be running on XP. Even if it managed to do local privilege escalation.

      ...and if the servers were running XP then there are even more questions to be asked.

    2. Halfmad Silver badge

      We have 8 XP machines, all on a separate LAN with no connection to anything else. The rest of the desktops/laptops are Windows 7 or 10.

      Ward PCs are all Windows 7. We demanded clinical system suppliers ensured compatibility before the deadline for support on XP. The remaining 8 XP machines are there due to specific lab equipment not being compatible with Windows 7.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

    It's the best option for running a secure network these days, what else could be more secure?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

      Can we have an anonymous troll icon please?

      1. Simon Harris Silver badge

        Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

        <Sarcasm> needs to be included as a valid tag in the next HTML specification.

        1. Christoph Silver badge
          Joke

          Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

          "<Sarcasm> needs to be included as a valid tag in the next HTML specification."

          No point - the UK wouldn't need it and the US wouldn't understand it.

          1. elDog

            Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

            Hey! I resent that. We have just as good a humerous as you limeys.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

              We have just as good a humerous as you limeys

              .. as the late, wonderful Robin Williams amply demonstrated, and he's not alone.

              1. Semtex451 Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: This wouldn't happen if they were running Windows.

                Yea, you've got Donald Trump & Hilary Clinton as Presidential candidates, if that ain't sarcasm I don't know what is.

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    'Nuff said..

    " finance people only like to plan for what's actually going to happen,"

    1. Jos V

      Re: 'Nuff said..

      Hey Terry, I know what you mean (every tech here does). Finance people do not walk through reality, they live in alternate reality.

      I've been trying to push in a system for disaster -prevention- into our setups, but how do you prove to them how much you -will- save? They don't care. It won't be them up all night fixing broken stuff. And broken stuff will be replaced out of a different budget. Sigh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Nuff said..

        I've been trying to push in a system for disaster -prevention- into our setups, but how do you prove to them how much you -will- save? They don't care. It won't be them up all night fixing broken stuff. And broken stuff will be replaced out of a different budget. Sigh.

        That's why we use BCM (Business Continuity Management) scenarios. BCM planning is based on estimating the cost of certain scenarios, which then drives decisions about business risk mitigation. In other words, you calculate the cost of things going AWOL and then decide if you engineer a solution, insure it or mark a budget for taking a hit. The fun part is that especially in a business with shareholders there is a duty to protect a business, so once you have a doomsday scenario where security fails you have a financial basis on which to base decisions - and board members who are responsible for making it happen. It moves the pain of failure to where the money decisions are taken which rather helps.

        BTW, if someone talks about BCM being an IT activity, send him or her back to school. This plays at board level. IT is an important part, but it's BUSINESS continuity, not IT continuity :).

    2. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: 'Nuff said..

      "finance people only like to plan for what's actually going to happen,"

      Finance people should never, ever be allowed to run a business; advise those who do - fine, but beyond that... no.

      Quite apart from that an attack on a corporate IT system is going to happen; the only unknown is when. A hospital IT system is simply too tempting a target for a hacker to ignore.

      1. ecofeco Silver badge

        Re: 'Nuff said..

        "Finance people should never, ever be allowed to run a business"

        Thank you. I've been saying this for years. Right here on El Reg as well.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: 'Nuff said..

        "Finance people should never, ever be allowed to run a business; advise those who do - fine, but beyond that... no."

        But when finance people can control the BUDGETS...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: 'Nuff said..

      Who was it that said (can't remember exact wording)

      "they know the cost of everything and the value of nothing"

      I'm sure that they were describing your usual beancounter.

  7. Joe User

    Give thanks where it's due

    "We've got some fairly ancient application architecture so we've got some file-shares, and actually that's what happened to us – a crypto attack went through our file-shares and encrypted the data."

    "Thank God for that full backup, then," she added.

    Correction: Thank our IT staff for that full backup.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Give thanks where it's due

      "Correction: Thank our IT staff for that full backup."

      You mean Jane Berezynskyj, ICT director? She just might have something to do with the IT staff. Like, maybe, the final say on the use of budget and where it gets spent. Such as on robust backup systems and mitigation strategies due to, again as per the article, previous attacks on their systems.

  8. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "using mixed media including tape, given that some attacks target digital backups."

    So that's analogue tape. Are they using cassette recorders?

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      And some attacks are sleepers, laying low so they can get INTO backups.

    2. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

      Dunno, for me it parses just fine.

      Digital backups come in different flavors: disk-based, tape-based, optical media, online, offline, very offline aka vaulted. Some of those can be easily targeted by cryptoworms, some not.

      For some bits of information there are paper printouts that are obviously non-digital.

  9. Christoph Silver badge
    Joke

    Presumably there would be all sorts of moaning and whingeing if they used the malware senders as donors?

  10. Gene Cash Silver badge

    been able to absorb its cost within existing budgets

    Presumably because there's one less nurse to pay?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    backup makes breaking NEWS

    sad testament indeed :/

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: backup makes breaking NEWS

      Indeed. Indeed. What a world, huh?

  12. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

    Dear sub-editors,

    Please learn precision when converting between units[1]. That conversion was obviously originally in Euros and to the nearest ten thousand; the Sterling equivalent should have been £80,000-£160,000.

    Thank you.

    [1] unless you're converting to Reg Units, of course, in which long fractions are mandatory.

    1. PNGuinn
      Headmaster

      Re: £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

      "[1] unless you're converting to Reg Units, of course, in which long fractions are mandatory."

      Methinks you are confusing fractions and decimals.

      Shirley, to convert properly to / from real Reg units you need both severally?

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

        Mea culpa; lazy writing. Gives the subs something to do.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

          What is the reg units for salary? Pints or kebabs?

          20k pints is a decent salary.

          1. katrinab Silver badge

            Re: £80,672-£161,345 (€90,000-€180,000).

            The Economist uses the Big Mac as a measure of purchasing power, and no of minutes to earn enough to buy a Big Mac as a measure of income.

  13. fandom

    Luck?

    They had backups, that's competente not luck.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Luck?

      AIUI the luck bit comes with the fact that the backup completed just before the attack struck so was pretty well up to date.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        Re: Luck?

        It also meant the backup itself didn't get corrupted: something you have to watch with cryptoware.

  14. Rich 11 Silver badge

    Bleedin' obvious

    "One of our key weaknesses is our people and user behaviour,"

    We all know that we can do a lot to restrict the scope of the mistakes which our beloved users might make, but it really needs to be stressed that users do make a shedload of stupid mistakes, training programmes notwithstanding.

    Hands up everyone who has had training programmes cut and mitigation measures go unfunded because senior managment don't understand what the consequences will be until they personally are struck by someone's mistake (especially their own!).

    1. Spotswood

      Re: Bleedin' obvious

      We run our own training programs and always educate our users on each visit. That and a small peppering of 'you don't wanna be that guy/girl' has raised the level of awareness at our company.

      I also quarantine ALL doc/x files and zip attachments with impunity, and encourage the use of secure file sharing applications. There's a small management overhead, yes, but it's a damn side better than dealing with an outbreak, which has not happened yet.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: Bleedin' obvious

        " There's a small management overhead, yes, but it's a damn side better than dealing with an outbreak, which has not happened yet."

        And how long before some bozo says "Why are you doing all this? There haven't been any problems so it's just a waste of time."?

        1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

          Re: Bleedin' obvious

          And how long before that particular bozo is unfortunate enough to have an attack himself .. fortunately limited to just him.

          1. Danny 14 Silver badge

            Re: Bleedin' obvious

            Good luck convincing consultant surgeons that they cannot email word documents to each other.

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Bleedin' obvious

              Or worse, someone on the board...

          2. Korev Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Bleedin' obvious

            It's been a few weeks since we've had a new BOFH

  15. N2 Silver badge

    Why

    Cant email servers detect & remove such malicious scripts

    Or if not just remove all attachments altogether?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Why

      Because the users complain, especially if they're being used to transfer important information such as X-ray images or lab reports. See Spotswood's post for a more practical approach.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Why

      "Or if not just remove all attachments altogether?"

      Not to mention all the normal documents/script vectors but both jog and tif files/libraries have been/are malware vectors and hospitals need to send/receive image files all the time.

  16. N2 Silver badge

    "One of our key weaknesses is our people and user behaviour,"

    Years ago, muppet managers used to fire people that introduced viruses on floppy discs, ye reap what ye sow.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: "One of our key weaknesses is our people and user behaviour,"

      And then they got introduced at communal points where attribution couldn't be assured.

  17. Matdamon

    Prepare

    Why do we even have state-provided health insurance? I would have thought that if hospitals were run as actual businesses preparedness for attacks would be much better.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Prepare

      Please tell me you missed out the sarcasm tag. Or that you're USian and can be excused on grounds of not knowing any better.

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Prepare

      So the American model then?

      Hahahaha. Yeah... nope.

      1. Mark York 3 Silver badge

        Re: Prepare

        I think that they refer to it as "Yee Haaaaa!"

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: Prepare

          Im guessing that you have health insurance because your insurance comapnies have a good hold in your government system. We still have a tiny bit of sanity left in ours.

          For how long I cannot say :(

  18. martinusher Silver badge

    Emal should not include links -- ever

    Email is supposed to be text; it got to support HTML because advertisers like to push stuff at users and companies like Microsoft just can't stop obliging them. So they not only support links in mail traffic but they also allow execution of programs via those links.

    You'd have thought they would have learned their lesson in the 90s. Obviously not. For now -- set you mail client to 'plain text only'.....nothing is that important that you have to click on a link.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Emal should not include links -- ever

      I think the problem of HTML email is slightly older than Microsoft, even if LookOut!^WOutlook did popularise it.

      Netscape Communicator supported it for example.

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Emal should not include links -- ever

      "nothing is that important that you have to click on a link."

      Until the person demanding it is AN EXECUTIVE.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    'things' that attack hospitals

    Think of the most revolting slime you can image - a comparison would be an insult to the slime.

    1. Steven Roper

      Re: 'things' that attack hospitals

      As somebody else suggested, these maggots do have a use to society; they'd make good organ donors.

  20. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Okay, somebody tell me why Internet access is not properly locked down

    As a consultant, I often work in banking environments.

    In one of those, Internet access was not allowed from the desktop, but you could launch an Internet Explorer session which connected to a VM that allowed to go on the Internet - except you could download nothing because the VM had no access to your PC. It seems to me that this is the solution to that problem.

    This solution is probably not easy to implement, I have no idea since I'm just a lowly programmer and not a sysadmin, but dammit somebody has found the solution, so it is possible. And knowing the bank in question, it likely did not cost an arm and a leg to set up.

    So let's get cracking. Forbid everything from the Internet, create a sandbox environment that can access Internet, and this kind of problem is gone.

    1. CustardGannet
      Joke

      "As a consultant, I often work in banking environments"

      As a consultant, shouldn't you really stick to diagnosing patients' conditions ?

    2. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Okay, somebody tell me why Internet access is not properly locked down

      Until a HYPERVISOR attack comes along. They make jailbreak and sandbox escapes. A VM escape can't be fat behind.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Still better than the nothing they have now.

  21. John H Woods

    Ransomware resistance is (relatively) reasonable

    If the scope were to be confined solely to active fileshares (e.g. all backup provision is the same, system is only used for file sharing) and there are no "maxed-out" issues (e.g. no spare rackspace, no more UPS'd power) then a shared FS of up to 50TB could be made highly ransom (and user cockup) resistant for under £50k; project duration (excluding authorization and procurement) max 10 working days and perhaps 2 hours of outage.

    The problem is that it looks like an unecessary expense until disaster strikes. As usual, my principal complaint about bean counters is that they often neglect the more actuarial aspects of their roles and focus too much on day to day and short term accounting.

  22. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge
    Devil

    Of course

    the sign saying "Clicking on e.mail links will result in you being used as a heart doner" must have fallen off the PC.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: Of course

      Wouldn't matter anyway. Someone will come along and retort, "Don't affect me. I'm heartless."

  23. Mike Shepherd
    Meh

    " "We were also very, very lucky. Timing absolutely was everything for us"

    Why would the hospital publish this admission? It appears very useful to someone trying again.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: " "We were also very, very lucky. Timing absolutely was everything for us"

      They also mention that incremental backups are now done every hour.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

        Gosh aren't they clever.

        It's at least five years since my other half's hairdresser moved into the 21st century with a computerised booking+billing system.

        It too had hourly backups.

        Nice to know those in charge of NHS IT (are those letters in the right order?) have caught up with the advanced world of hairdressing and the NHF.

        1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

          Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

          'Hourly backup' does not mean very much. Backups are easy, but good backups are surprisingly hard. Well tested nightly backup is sometimes worth more than untested one from 5 minutes ago.

          Without knowing how they're done we cannot really judge.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

            But how can you do it without an offline risk on a system that CAN'T be taken offline due to the 24/7 medical demand?

            1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

              Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

              That's where it gets tricky. Disk snapshots, clever backup software that can deal with open files, lots of additional procedures and lots of administrator work. And it's still bloody hard to get consistent data. Backing up something is easy, but getting any levels of confidence is hard.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

                "Backing up something is easy, "

                Absolutely.

                It's only when it doesn't usefully restore that you find out how good the backup is, e.g. about issues of data synchronisation and application quiescing and such.

                "clever backup software that can deal with open files,"

                Even if it can deal with open files, who's to say that what's on the filesystem at the time the snapshot is taken is something that will be useful when restored.

                1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

                  Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

                  These are very valid concerns.

                  Usual way of getting a good snapshot of a database is to quiesce its disk I/O for a moment, issue snapshot commands on the storage system, and resume I/O. Takes about 5 seconds or so. After that it's sensible to mount snapshot volume on a separate server for doing consistency checks & backing data to the tape.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

                    And what if your database is very-high-activity, such that even a momentary pause can be costly?

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      Anonymous Coward

                      Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

                      "what if your database is very-high-activity, such that even a momentary pause can be costly?"

                      Then use the right tool for the job. One size does not always fit all. If the integrity of backups is important, and near-continuous uptime is also important, some investment in time, expertise and maybe even in product may be called for.

                      Or people can carry on using cheap approaches which are worth every penny, and carry on relying on faith (rather than testing) for assurance that everything will be OK. And quite often it mostly will be OK. But not always. Then what?

                      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

                        Re: "incremental backups are now done every hour."

                        "Or people can carry on using cheap approaches which are worth every penny, and carry on relying on faith (rather than testing) for assurance that everything will be OK. And quite often it mostly will be OK. But not always. Then what?"

                        That may be all you have to work with if you have a high-activity server you MUST back up but only a shoestring budget with which to do it. It's like being told to set up a communications network with nothing but a few dented tin cans and a wet noodle.

  24. Baldy50

    Death by vivisection!

    Those caught attacking hospitals and such should face a particularly harsh punishment and live just long enough to smell their own entrails being burnt on a fire, the rest should go to those in need of a transplant organ.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re. Death by..

    Having their hearts cut out and replaced with a very low budget artificial replacement and a belt battery with 20% charge.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if people who create ransomware, which infects Hospitals should be given the death penalty.

    Sort of like a poetic justice.

  27. jms222

    Old technology called permissions

    Remember those things called permissions and that you can mark things not supposed to be written as read-only ? Even on network shares.

    Clearly they don't

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Old technology called permissions

      Ever heard of privilege escalation? Privileges are nothing to one who can SET them.

  28. Unicornpiss Silver badge
    Alert

    Punishment?

    We've evolved well past the time when viruses were written for fun or to show off. IMHO if a ransomware attack would have disrupted (or will in the future) any surgeries or other healthcare operations having a deleterious effect on patients, that the scum that distribute such malware should be tried for assault up to and including homicide. (perhaps the law already provides for this)

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Punishment?

      But no law in the books is going to do much good if the perpetrator's found to be outside sovereign reach, especially if they're found to be in a HOSTILE nation (like China).

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