Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) will spend £150m to bolster its cybersecurity defences after a WannaCry malware attack disabled department’s computer systems.
The Department of Health and Social Care has signed a deal with Microsoft under which all NHS organisations will be able to use Windows 10 with up to date security settings.
NHS was one of the worst affected victims of a global ransomware attack that infected over 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries in May last year.
The attack targeted at least 80 health and over 600 NHS organizations across the UK, leading to the cancellation of more than 20,000 hospital appointments and operations.
The new package has been announced amid warnings that Russian hackers have been targeting UK’s critical national infrastructure.
“We know cyber attacks are a growing threat, so it is vital our health and care organisations have secure systems which patients trust,” Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, said.
“We have been building the capability of NHS systems over a number of years, but there is always more to do to future-proof our NHS against this threat.
The new package has been announced amid warnings that Russian hackers have been targeting UK’s critical national infrastructure
Hunt said that the Microsoft deal would enhance security intelligence and enable trusts to detect threats, phishing and malware, isolate infected machines and kill malicious processes before they spread to the other parts of the network.
“This new technology will ensure the NHS can use the latest and most resilient software available – something the public rightly expect,” he added.
The £150 million will be spent over the next three years to improve resilience, including the establishment of a new NHS Digital Security Operations Centre to improve the department’s ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats.
£21 million have been reserved for upgrading firewalls and network infrastructure at major trauma centre hospitals and ambulance trusts.
NHS has already spent £39 million on its trusts this year to help them address infrastructure weaknesses.
A new a text messaging alert system has also been launched to enable the trusts to transmit information even when internet and email services are down.
Sarah Wilkinson, chief executive at NHS Digital, has hailed the new cybersecurity package.
“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,” she said.