Cyber attack locks out computers in UK hospitals; Spain on alert too after ransomware threat

England's National Health Service (NHS) said a number of hospitals' computer systems had been hit by a 'ransomware' attack on Friday, but that so far it did not believe patient data had been accessed.

"This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors," NHS Digital, a division of NHS England which handles information technology issues, said in a statement.

NHS Digital said the malware variant infecting computers was believed to be one known as Wanna Decryptor. Ransomware attacks typically remotely encrypt files on a computer, and charge users to decrypt them.

"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," the public body said.

The victims included Telefonica (TEF.MC), the nation's biggest telecommunications firm, while other Spanish firms such as power company Iberdrola (IBE.MC) and utility Gas Natural (GAS.MC) took preventive measures.

"There has been an alert relating to a massive ransomware attack on various organisations, which is affecting their Windows systems," Spain's National Cryptology Centre said in a statement.

Spain is the latest nation to warn of a global surge in ransomware. Hacks have disrupted services provided by hospitals, police departments, public transportation systems and utilities in the United States and Europe.


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