Date Published: 24/03/2020

Cyber-attack threatens Spanish hospital computer systems

Healthcare workers are urged not to open suspicious emails with the entire hospital computer system at risk

The Policía Nacional has issued a warning that the “entire computer system of Spain’s hospitals” is being targeted in a cyber-attack which uses a massive email campaign directed at Spanish healthcare workers, with emails said to contain a “very dangerous and malicious virus”.

It appears that other emails are also being sent with the aim of accessing operating systems, infecting computers and hacking all passwords and personal information as online security experts continue to warn of a global rise in the number of cyberattacks, many of them based on the Covid-19 pandemic.

At a time when hospitals all over the country are being stretched to and beyond their logistical limits by the spread of the coronavirus, the consequences of a successful cyber-attack could be little short of catastrophic, and this attack using the “Netwalker” system is being treated with extreme urgency. It is reported that the kind of virus being employed almost always originates in eastern Europe and consists of first “corrupting” information and then demanding a ransom in order to reverse the damage caused.

As an initial line of protection the police have urged all healthcare professionals to avoid opening any emails of a suspicion nature, on the grounds that “the best protection is prevention”.

Due to the critical nature of the coronavirus pandemic all over the world many criminal groups have announced recently that they will desist from targeting healthcare organizations, but unfortunately the police report that the Netwalker group is not one of them.


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What to do if you are in the Region of Murcia and believe you may have contracted the virus

Cyber-attack threatens Spanish hospital computer systems

The regional government has set up a special helpline to supply information to members of the public (900 121212), and also urges people to call the 112 emergency services line if they suspect that they may have contracted the virus rather than going straight to hospital or to a medical centre. Medical staff will be sent to your home to test for the virus.

The Region’s public hospitals have limited the number of visitors to just one per patient.

Sensible precautions

The advice being issued to members of the public by medical authorities all over the world coincides on the following points:

– Wash hands frequently with either soap and water or a sanitiser gel

– Catch coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues – and throw the tissues away immediately after use before immediately washing your hands!

– If you don’t have a tissue, use your sleeve – and wash the item of clothing used at the next opportunity

– AVOID touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands

– AVOID close contact with people who are unwell

– Don´t panic!

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