News NHS wel­comes move to block the hack­ers

Nuneaton Telegraph - - FRONT PAGE -

COVEN­TRY and War­wick­shire NHS Trust has wel­comed a national ‘eth­i­cal hacker’ unit that will over­see the health ser­vice’s dig­i­tal de­fences.

The £20mil­lion ini­tia­tive an­nounced ear­lier this week will use ex­perts to pin­point weak­nesses in sys­tems rather than just be­ing re­ac­tive.

In May the Wan­naCry at­tack crip­pled many NHS trusts, in­clud­ing Nuneaton’s Ge­orge Eliot Hos­pi­tal, and the new op­er­a­tion will try to pre­vent such melt­downs.

The Trust cur­rently spends £37,000 a year on cy­ber-se­cu­rity, ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided after a Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act re­quest.

This in­cludes £12,000 on ‘end user’ pro­tec­tion li­censes needed for se­cur­ing lap­tops and mo­bile phones, £7,000 on ‘gate­way’ li­censes for fil­ter­ing and mon­i­tor­ing con­tent and £18,000 on fire­walls and re­lated pro­tec­tion.

Under the new ini­tia­tive an­nounced by NHS Dig­i­tal, the health ser­vice com­put­ing agency, hos­pi­tals will be ad­vised by a national data se­cu­rity team repli­cat­ing the same meth­ods used in pre­vi­ous cy­ber-at­tacks.

Gale Hart, di­rec­tor of fi­nance, per­for­mance and in­for­ma­tion at Coven­try and War­wick­shire Part­ner­ship NHS Trust, said: “We are work­ing closely with NHS Dig­i­tal to en­sure we put in place the most ap­pro­pri­ate mea­sures to pro­tect IT sys­tems from dis­rup­tion and po­ten­tial crim­i­nal at­tack.

“We place the high­est pri­or­ity on tak­ing care of the data we han­dle about pa­tients, staff and all the peo­ple we serve across Coven­try and War­wick­shire.

“Any national ini­tia­tive ded­i­cated to sup­port­ing NHS or­gan­i­sa­tions like ours is wel­come for the ad­di­tional pro­tec­tion and re­as­sur­ance this will help cre­ate.”

Wan­nacry af­fected a third of Eng­land’s hos­pi­tals, with the National Au­dit Of­fice con­clud­ing that it could have been pre­vented by ‘ba­sic IT se­cu­rity best prac­tice’.

NHS Dig­i­tal is now seek­ing a part­ner to sup­port them with the project, ten­dered to run for three to four years, as it seeks to bol­ster health ser­vice de­fences.

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