A group of UK hospitals are receiving $27.3 million (£21 million) to improve their cybersecurity in the wake of the WannaCry ransomware attack that occurred earlier this year and shut down a number of healthcare systems, according to a Guardian report.
UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the extra money was pledged to try and stop future malware and ransomware attacks from disrupting operations and appointments at medical centers, according to the report.
The full funding will be split across 27 NHS trauma centers across England. Hospitals receiving funding include King’s College, St. Mary’s, Royal London and Manchester Royal Infirmary. Cash is slated to update IT systems and train staff for future cyber attacks, the Guardian reports.
“The NHS has a long history of safeguarding confidential data but with the growing threat of cyber-attacks, including the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, this government has acted to protect information across the NHS. Only by leading cultural change and backing organizations to drive up security standards across the health and care system can we build the resilience the NHS needs in the face of a global threat,” UK Health Minister Lord O’Shaughnessy said, according to the paper.
The UK’s NHS Digital said it will also add extra features to improve cybersecurity, including broadcasted alerts to warn hospitals about cybersecurity threats, a hotline for incidents and online security assessments, the Guardian reports.
In May, hospitals and healthcare establishments in Britain were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments after getting hit with a massive ransomware cyber attack.
The UK’s National Health Service said that dozens of organizations have been affected by the ransomware attack, causing major disruptions to IT systems.
Ransomware attacks typically remotely encrypt files on a computer and hold them until the owners, or users of the files, pay a fee.
The NHS said that the attack involved a variant of the WannaCry Decryptor malware program, but that the NHS and the UK were not specifically targeted.
No patient data was believed to have been accessed during the attack, and Britain’s National Cyber Security Centre and National Crime Agency have said that they are currently investigating the issue.
At least 21 hospitals and healthcare facilities were affected by the attack. Phone systems, X-ray services and patient administration systems have been affected, while 1 doctor in eastern England reported all cancer treatments had been suspended in his area.