The UK’s NHS Toughens Cybersecurity Defenses after WannaCry Ransomware

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) is set to spend £20 million on a new security operations installation to help protect hospitals and health services against cyber attacks.

The ‘Security Operations Centre’ will see the NHS improve its current capabilities in information security (infosec) such as vulnerability testing, malware analysis, and ethical hacking, with additional cybersecurity advice and guidance provided to local NHS trusts across the country.

One of the key tasks of the new installation will be ensuring organizations are following best practices with additional ongoing monitoring of NHS national healthcare systems and services. Further, NHS Digital – the national information and technology partner of the healthcare system – will also boost its existing capabilities with a monitoring service powered by intelligence from multiple sources before sharing threat intelligence and guidance for the healthcare industry.

“The Security Operations Centre will enhance NHS Digital’s current data security services that support the health and care system in protecting sensitive patient information,” said Dan Taylor, Head of the Digital Security Centre at NHS Digital.

He added:

It will also allow us to improve our current capabilities in ethical hacking, vulnerability testing and the forensic analysis of malicious software, and will improve our ability to anticipate future vulnerabilities while supporting health and care in remediating current known threats

The initiative comes within six months of the WannaCry ransomware outbreak which saw several NHS hospitals and trusts crippled without fully functioning IT systems. An analysis by the National Audit Office confirmed that several Trusts hadn’t implemented the most basic security measures, including applying critical patches to systems.

NHS Digital is also looking for a partner to support its Security Operations Centre to bring “additional specialist expertise’ to the installation.

While there is no specified date on when the center will open, it will be based in Leeds.

Image credit: Flickr.