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NHS cyber-attack: hospital computer systems held to ransom across England

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Hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack, the NHS has confirmed, which has locked staff out of their computers and forced many trusts to divert emergency patients.

The IT systems of NHS sites across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the PCs. NHS England has declared a major incident. NHS Digital said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon.

Details of patient records and appointment schedules, as well as internal phone lines and emails, have all been rendered inaccessible.

NHS Digital said: “A number of NHS organisations have reported to NHS Digital that they have been affected by a ransomware attack which is affecting a number of different organisations.

“The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this.

“NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations.

“This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors.

“Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available.”

According to reports, affected hospitals include those run by East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust, Barts Health in London, Essex Partnership university NHS trusts, the university hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS foundation trust, Southport and Ormskirk hospital NHS trust and Blackpool teaching hospital NHS foundation trust.

More reports of affected hospitals are continuing to stream in, as well as claims that GP surgeries are coming down with the virus, which demands a payment of $300 to release files it claims have been encrypted. The NHS has been unable to give a full list of the sites affected.

British law enforcement believes the attack is criminal in nature, as opposed to be a cyber attack by a foreign power, and is being treated as serious but without national security implications.

The National Crime Agency, which is Britain’s version of the FBI, was taking the lead in dealing with the investigation into the attack. Investigators believe the attack is significant with many computers affected across the country.

A spokesman for the National Cyber Security Centre said: “We are aware of a cyber incident and are working with NHS digital and the NCA to investigate.”

In a message to a Guardian reporter, one NHS IT worker said: “At approximately 12.30pm we experienced a problem with our email servers crashing. Following this a lot of our clinical systems and patient systems were reported to have gone down.

“A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs. You cannot get past this screen. This followed with an internal major incident being declared and advised all trust staff to shut down all PCs in the trust and await further instructions.

“This is affecting the east of England and number of other trusts. This is the largest outage of this nature I’ve seen in the six years I’ve been employed with the NHS.”

Another NHS worker, who works at an Essex hospital but asked to remain anonymous, said: “We got some ransomware that came through on the computers at about 2pm. We were told to shut down, take out network cables and unplug the phones. A message came up for just one of our team about the fact that all the files would be wiped in two hours unless we gave $300 in bitcoins.”

She confirmed that the image that appeared on her colleague’s screen was the same as one that has already been circulated on Twitter, which says: “Ooops, your files have been encrypted!

“Many of your documents, photos, videos, databases and other files are no longer accessible because they have been encrypted. Maybe you are busy looking for a way to recover your files, but do not waste your time. Nobody can recover your files without our decryption service.”

The screen tells users to send $300 worth of bitcoin to a bitcoin wallet address. It adds: “You only have three days to submit the payment. After that the price will be doubled. Also if you don’t pay in seven days, you won’t be able to recover your files forever.”

A Barts spokesman said it was experiencing “major IT disruption” and delays at all four of its hospitals, The Royal London, St Bartholomew’s, Whipps Cross and Newham. He said: “We have activated our major incident plan to make sure we can maintain the safety and welfare of patients.

“We are very sorry that we have to cancel routine appointments, and would ask members of the public to use other NHS services wherever possible. Ambulances are being diverted to neighbouring hospitals.”

GP surgeries across Liverpool and parts of Greater Manchester also appeared to have been affected by the cyber-attack.

The NHS Liverpool clinical commissioning group said: “Please be aware the NHS is experiencing serious IT problems today. Please only contact your GP surgery or hospital in a genuine emergency.”

One Liverpool GP, John Caldwell, said he had “no access to record systems or results” and described the disruption as “very limiting”. Dr Chris Mimnagh, a GP in Liverpool, told the Guardian that his surgery had “severed links” to the wider NHS network as a precaution.

He said: “Unable to access our clinical system – as a precaution our area has severed links to the wider NHS, which means no access to our national systems, no computers means no records, no prescriptions, no results, we are dealing with urgent problems only, our patients are being very understanding so far.”

A spokesman for the Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen university hospitals trust said it was “aware that there’s an issue nationally and we’re reviewing our IT systems”.

A spokeswoman for Central Manchester university hospitals, the largest NHS trust in Greater Manchester, said she was “genuinely not sure” if they had been affected and that they were investigating.

A GP surgery in Bury, Greater Manchester, said all networks in the region had been affected. Peel GPs said on Twitter: “All Greater Manchester networks down – we cannot access any patient info plz RT @NHSBuryCCG.”

Doctors have been posting on Twitter about what has been happening to their systems.

A screengrab of a instant message conversation circulated by one doctor says: “So our hospital is down … We got a message saying your computers are now under their control and pay a certain amount of money. And now everything is gone.”

East and North Hertfordshire NHS trust said in a statement: “Today (Friday, 12 May 2017), the trust has experienced a major IT problem, believed to be caused by a cyber attack.

“Immediately on discovery of the problem, the trust acted to protect its IT systems by shutting them down; it also meant that the trust’s telephone system is not able to accept incoming calls.

“The trust is postponing all non-urgent activity for today and is asking people not to come to A&E – please ring NHS111 for urgent medical advice or 999 if it is a life-threatening emergency.

“To ensure that all back-up processes and procedures were put in place quickly, the trust declared a major internal incident to make sure that patients already in the trust’s hospitals continued to receive the care they need.”

The attack comes as several Spanish companies, including the telecoms giant Telefónica, were also targeted by a “massive ransomware attack”, according to Spain’s national cyber-security centre. The attack appears to present the same message to users as those targeting the NHS.

In a statement released following an apparent wave of attacks on Friday morning, the National Cryptology Centre said a cyber assault had been launched “against various organisations”, affecting Windows systems and corrupting networks and archives.

The ransomware used in the Spanish attacks is a version of the WannaCry virus, which encrypts sensitive user data, the National Cryptology Centre said. Telefónica confirmed there had been “a cybersecurity incident” affecting the intranet of some computers at its Madrid headquarters.

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11-Year Old Linux Kernel Local Privilege Escalation Flaw Discovered

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Another privilege-escalation vulnerability has been discovered in Linux kernel that dates back to 2005 and affects major distro of the Linux operating system, including Redhat, Debian, OpenSUSE, and Ubuntu.

Over a decade old Linux Kernel bug (CVE-2017-6074) has been discovered by security researcher Andrey Konovalov in the DCCP (Datagram Congestion Control Protocol) implementation using Syzkaller, a kernel fuzzing tool released by Google.

The vulnerability is a use-after-free flaw in the way the Linux kernel’s “DCCP protocol implementation freed SKB (socket buffer) resources for a DCCP_PKT_REQUEST packet when the IPV6_RECVPKTINFO option is set on the socket.”

The DCCP double-free vulnerability could allow a local unprivileged user to alter the Linux kernel memory, enabling them to cause a denial of service (system crash) or escalate privileges to gain administrative access on a system.

“An attacker can control what object that would be and overwrite its content with arbitrary data by using some of the kernel heap spraying techniques. If the overwritten object has any triggerable function pointers, an attacker gets to execute arbitrary code within the kernel,” full disclosure mailing list about the vulnerability reads.

DCCP is a message-oriented transport layer protocol that minimizes the overhead of packet header size or end-node processing as much as possible and provides the establishment, maintenance and teardown of an unreliable packet flow, and the congestion control of that packet flow.

This vulnerability does not provide any way for an outsider to break into your system in the first place, as it is not a remote code execution (RCE) flaw and require an attacker to have a local account access on the system to exploit the flaw.

Almost two months ago, a similar privilege-escalation vulnerability (CVE-2016-8655) was uncovered in Linux kernel that dated back to 2011 and allowed an unprivileged local user to gain root privileges by exploiting a race condition in the af_packet implementation in the Linux kernel.

The vulnerability has already been patched in the mainline kernel. So, if you are an advanced Linux user, apply the patch and rebuild kernel yourself.

OR, you can wait for the next kernel update from your distro provider and apply it as soon as possible.

Source: http://thehackernews.com/2017/02/linux-kernel-local-root.html
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President Donald Trump’s Website Hacked; Defaced By Iraqi Hacker

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During the 2016 presidential election campaign, we reported about how insecure was the mail servers operated by the Trump organization that anyone with little knowledge of computers can expose almost everything about Trump and his campaign.

Now, some unknown hackers calling themselves “Pro_Mast3r” managed to deface an official website associated with President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign fundraising on Sunday.

The hacker, claiming to be from Iraq, reportedly defaced the server, secure2.donaldjtrump.com, which is behind CloudFlare’s content management system and security platform.

The server appears to be an official Trump campaign server, reported Ars, as the certificate of the server is legitimate, “but a reference to an image on another site is insecure, prompting a warning on Chrome and Firefox that the connection is not secure.

The defaced website displayed an image of a black hat man and included a text message, which reads:

Hacked by Pro_Mast3r ~
Attacker Gov
Nothing Is Impossible
Peace From Iraq

At the time of writing, the server is now offline, and there is no official statement from Trump-Pence campaign team yet.

According to a blog post published by Italian IT journalist Paolo Attivissimo, the source code of the defaced server does not contain any malicious script.

Instead, the server includes a link to javascript on a now-nonexistent Google Code account, ‘masterendi,’ which was linked to cyber attacks on three other sites in the past.

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Attack code for ‘unpatchable’ USB flaw released

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Computer code that can turn any almost any device that connects via USB into a cyber-attack platform has been shared online.

Computer security researchers wrote the code following the discovery of the USB flaw earlier this year.

The pair made the code public in an attempt to force electronics firms to improve defences against attack by USB.

One of the experts who found the flaw said the release was a “stark reminder” of its seriousness.

Attack tools

Details of the BadUSB flaw were released at the Black Hat computer security conference in August by Karsten Nohl and Jakob Lell.

Their work revealed how to exploit flaws in the software that helps devices connect to computers via USB. The biggest problem they discovered lurks in the onboard software, known as firmware, found on these devices.

Among other things the firmware tells a computer what kind of a device is being plugged into a USB socket but the two cybersecurity researchers found a way to subvert this and install attack code. At Black Hat, the BBC saw demonstrations using a smartphone and a USB stick that could steal data when plugged into target machines.

Mr Nohl said he and his colleague did not release code in order to give firms making USB-controlling firmware time to work out how to combat the problem.

Now researchers Adam Caudill and Brandon Wilson have done their own work on the USB flaw and produced code that can be used to exploit it. The pair unveiled their work at the DerbyCon hacker conference last week and have made their attack software freely available via code-sharing site Github.

“We’re releasing everything we’ve done here, nothing is being held back,” said Mr Wilson in a presentation at DerbyCon.

“We believe that this information should not be limited to a select few as others have treated it,” he added. “It needs to be available to the public.”

Mr Wilson said cybercrime groups definitely had the resources to replicate the work of Mr Nohl and Mr Lell to produce their own attack code so releasing a version to the security community was a way to redress that imbalance.

Responding to the release of the attack tools Mr Nohl told the BBC that such “full disclosure” can motivate companies to act and make products more secure.

“In the case of BadUSB, however, the problem is structural,” he said. “The standard itself is what enables the attack and no single vendor is in a position to change that.”

“It is unclear who would feel pressured to improve their products by the recent release,” he added. “The release is a stark reminder to defenders, though, that BadUSB is – and always has been – in reach of attackers.”

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