According to Digital Health, the Department of Health and Social Care announced a new partnership with Microsoft that will allow all National Health Service organizations to use Windows 10, the most updated and secure operating system Microsoft has released to date.
In May 2017, a ransomware cryptoworm called WannaCry attacked more than 200,000 computers over 150 countries running Windows by encrypting data and demanding ransom in Bitcoin cryptocurrency. The attack was stopped after Microsoft developed emergency patches a few days later, but only after hundreds of thousands of dollars were lost.
This attack affected one third of NHS trusts in England, locking staff out of their devices and IT systems and forcing them to cancel appointments. The new Microsoft operating system is supposed to help them not only avoid attacks like this, but also be able to respond more quickly, as Windows 10 can detect viruses, phishing and malware, isolate infected machines, and kill malicious processes before they are able to spread.
“We welcome the Secretary of State’s commitment to prioritise cyber security,” said Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive at NHS Digital. “The new Windows Operating System has a range of advanced security and identity protection features that will help us to keep NHS systems and data safe from attack. This is one of a suite of measures we are deploying to protect the service from cyber attack.”
The government will also be setting up a new NHS Digital Security Operations Centre, which is just one phase of a £150 million pledge to help the public body prevent, detect, and resist attacks. NHS trusts have already spent £39 million to address weakness that prevented them from responding effectively to past cyber attacks and will be spending £21 million to upgrade firewalls and network infrastructure to improve security at emergency sites like trauma center hospitals and ambulance trusts.
“The importance of helping to protect the NHS from the growing threat of cyber-attacks cannot be overstated,” said Cindy Rose, chief executive of Microsoft UK. “The introduction of a centralised Windows 10 agreement will ensure a consistent approach to security that also enables the NHS to rapidly modernise its IT infrastructure.”