Massive Cyber Attack Cripples UK Hospitals, Spreads Globally

A massive ransomware attack is currently under way. It was first widely reported having crippled the UK hospital system, but has since spread to numerous other systems throughout the world including FedEx in the US, the Russian Interior Ministry, and telecommunications firms in Spain and Russia.

The virus is known by names WannaCrypt, WannaCry, and a few other variants. It spreads using the ExternalBlue exploit in unpatched Windows machines older than version 10. The tools used to pull off this attack were likely from an NSA toolset leaked by the Shadow Brokers.

So far the strongest resource for technical information that we’ve found is this factsheet hosted on GitHub.

NHS Services at a Standstill in the UK

NHS services across England and Scotland have been hit by the ransomware attack, crippling multiple hospitals and doctor’s practices. The UK has universal healthcare — the National Health Service  — covering Doctors, Hospitals and generally everything medical related is free at the point of service. but today they have had to turn away patients and cancel consultations.

NHS is unable to access medical records of patients unless they pay £230 ($300) in bitcoin for infected machines. There is no evidence patient data has been compromised, NHS Digital has said. The BBC has stated that up to 39 NHS organisations and some GP practices have been affected.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) was “working closely” with the NHS and that they will protect patient safety. We are aware that a number of NHS organisations have reported that they have suffered from a ransomware attack.

-Prime Minister Theresa May

Infected Systems Throughout the World

Computers in regions across the globe have been under attack today, including Telefonica (O2 in the UK), with at least 45,000 computers compromised in Russia, Ukraine, India, and Taiwan alone. There’s no indication of who is behind the attack yet.

The ransomware’s code takes advantage of an exploit called EternalBlue, made public in April by Shadow Brokers which was patched by Microsoft in March, It comes as a shock that an organisation the size of the NHS seem not to have kept their computers updated. This is perhaps just a taster of what is to come in the future as cyber crime and warfare become more and more commonplace.

[Ransomware screenshots via @UID_]

Nurses Create in a Medical Makerspace

Although there are many skilled and dedicated types of health care professionals, nurses are often the main point of contact between the medical establishment and a patient. You will probably spend more time with your nurse–especially in a hospital setting–than any other health care provider. Every patient’s needs are different, so it isn’t surprising that nurses sometimes improvise unique solutions to help their patients be more comfortable or recover faster.

That’s the idea guiding an innovative program called MakerNurse–an initiative backed by MIT and the Robert W. Johnson Foundation. The idea is to encourage nurses to be makers. One of the project’s cofounders, Anna Young, had found nurses in Central America making do with what they had on hand and naturally acting as makers. “We saw a nurse repair a stethoscope diaphragm with an overhead transparency,” she said. Young noted that often nurses didn’t realize the significance of their making–it was just how they got through the day.

Continue reading “Nurses Create in a Medical Makerspace”

Choreographed Christmas light show (x4)

[Lucas] is at it again this year. Not satisfied by the computerized systems available on the market, [Lucas] decided to build on last year’s project. To save a bit of cash, he built the setup around Parallax’s low-cost SX28 proto board. The system is capable of controlling 102 channels, with 8-bit dimming. 6 boards control 7 channels each and are communicated to through a serial protocol (reducing the whole setup to only 36 feet of wiring).

More importantly, he’s teamed up with 3 other neighbors who also share a passion for outdoor Christmas lighting and they’ve put together the Christmas Tour of Lights. Money raised from all donations goes directly to the St. Jude Children’s Reasearch Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.