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Hackers could invade NHS systems to ‘fake’ or hide cancer on scans

This article was taken from: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/02/hackers-could-invade-nhs-systems-fake-hide-cancer-scans/

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Hackers could invade NHS systems and maliciously edit medical scans to “fake” or hide cancer, a new report warns.

The study by former health minister Lord Darzi warns that hospitals remain at risk of cyber attacks, because technology has not been properly funded.

And it says that a technological revolution taking part in the NHS, which plans wider use of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics – could also expose it to new threats.

The study by Imperial College London’s Institute of Global Health Innovation highlights international research which found that hackers could use AI to attack medical scans, and add or remove evidence of lung cancer from scans.

Radiologists checking the results could not tell that the images had been edited, the Israeli research found.

The report said more funding needs to be pumped into IT security to avoid crippling cyber threats in the aftermath of 2017’s WannaCry attack, which affected 80 trusts across England.

The health service was forced to cancel almost 20,000 hospital appointments and operations as a result of the attack – the biggest ransomware offensive in history.

About | WannaCry

What is it?

Also known as Wanna Decryptor or wcry, it is a piece of malicious software that encrypts files on a user’s computer, blocking them from view and threatening to delete them unless a payment is made.

How is it installed?

The virus made it onto computers thanks to a vulnerability in Windows that was exploited using a tool named EternalBlue, believed to be first developed by America’s NSA. Many computers had not been updated with protection against the exploit.

What does it do?

Once opened, the virus is able to encrypt files and block user access to them, displaying a pop-up window on-screen telling users they have been blocked and demanding payment – often via a digital currency such as Bitcoin.

Can you remove it without paying?

Yes, by using advanced anti-malware software. The malware can also be removed manually with a computer in “safe mode”, however security experts warn this runs the risk of damage to a PC as users must go through sensitive system files in order to find and isolate files created by the Wanna Decryptor software.

Source: PA

Researchers said the NHS needed to boost its cyber security, as innovations in AI, cloud computing and connected devices change the way medicine is delivered.

Lord Darzi, co-director of the Institute of Global Health Innovation, said: “We are in the midst of a technological revolution that is transforming the way we deliver and receive care. But as we become increasingly reliant on technology in healthcare, we must address the emerging challenges that arise in parallel.

“For the safety of patients, it is critical to ensure that the data, devices and systems that uphold our NHS and therefore our nation’s health are secure.

“This report highlights weaknesses that compromise patient safety and the integrity of health systems, so we are calling for greater investment in research to learn how we can better mitigate against the looming threats of cyber-attacks.”