‘Russian criminals’ behind NHS London hospitals cyber-attack

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A Russian group of cyber criminals known as Qilin are believed to be behind a cyber-attack that impacted major London hospitals.

The "major IT incident" impacted pathology systems at Kings College Hospital Foundation Trust and Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals Foundation Trusts.

The ransomware attack believed to have occurred on Monday (June 3) led to hospitals cancelling operations and tests and being unable to carry out blood transfusions.

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According to the former chief executive of the National Cyber Security Centre, the Russian cyber criminal group was “looking for money” by targeting the pathology services firm Synnovis.

St Thomas' hospital in Westminster was impacted by the ransomware attackSt Thomas' hospital in Westminster was impacted by the ransomware attack
St Thomas' hospital in Westminster was impacted by the ransomware attack | AFP via Getty Images

Ciaran Martin told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We believe it is a Russian group of cyber criminals who call themselves Qilin."

He said the group, which operates on the dark web, operated "freely from within Russia". He explained that the group had previously attacked automotive companies, Australian courts and the Big Issue in the UK.

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He said: "They're simply looking for money," but said the British government had a policy of not paying ransoms.

Mr Martin said the attack was "one of the more serious that we've seen in this country".

When asked about patient data, he said: "It's not really a question of data in this one, it's a question of the services.

"The criminals are threatening to publish data, but they always do that. Here the priority is the restoration of services."

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An NHS London spokesperson said:“The ransomware cyber-attack on Synnovis is continuing to cause disruption to services at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and primary care providers in south east London.

“All urgent and emergency services remain open as usual and the majority of outpatient services continue to operate as normal.

“Unfortunately, some operations and procedures which rely more heavily on pathology services have been postponed, and blood testing is being prioritised for the most urgent cases, meaning some patients have had phlebotomy appointments cancelled.

“We are sorry to all patients impacted and NHS staff will work hard to re-arrange appointments and treatments as quickly as possible.”

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