15 May 2017
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Ransomware - guidance for GPs (14 May 2017)

The Problem

Malware called 'WannaCry' has spread worldwide since Friday last, 12 May 2017, impacting over 200,000 victims in over 150 countries. It poses a real risk to GPs and the Health Services in general.

The malware comes in by email and is activated when a user opens an attached file. The malware encrypts files on the users own computer and spreads like a worm over the network to other vulnerable computers. Files are encrypted and a ransomware message is displayed, asking for bitcoin payment to release the files.

Risk Assessment

GPs need to do a risk assessment at the start of business on Monday morning, May 15th. They need to determine:

  • Whether they have any older computers running Windows XP
  • Whether their computers running more modern versions of Windows, such as Windows 7, 8 and 10 have been recently, i.e. in the last month, updated with Windows Operating System patches
  • Whether they have up to date antivirus software
  • Whether their staff are all aware of the risks of opening email attachments

Actions

GPs should:

  • Stop collecting normal email as a temporary measure
  • Don't open any computers running Windows XP, these computers need to be updated or replaced
  • Update the operating systems on all their other Windows computers
  • Ensure the backup systems are up to date

If you think you have a ransomware problem, contact your GP practice software supplier or your local hardware support service.

Awareness

GPs should take advice as the day and week progresses from national news sources, the HSE, their practice software suppliers and the ICGP on the level of threat from cyber-attacks and the necessary responses.

Resources

GPIT Frequently Asked Questions

GPIT Video on Ransomware

Document on Information Security, No Data No Business

Document on Acceptable Usage of the Internet

Dr Brian O'Mahony, GPIT Project Manager

Click here for a related press release issued by the ICGP on Saturday 13 May 2017