Hospitals just happened to be disproportionately affected by this attack because a lot of them have ineffective IT departments/mangement and never applied the MS17-010 patch.
Of course, these people are still felons and are likely responsible for millions of lost family photos, work and school documents, etc. They just aren't going out of their way to target hospitals.
This means that they knowingly or with reckless negligence unleashed such an attack on the world. If they had been more "scrupulous" criminals, they would have more narrowly tailored their attack on targets they believed deserved to be extorted or where such extortion would not interfere with life critical systems.
I'm not a lawyer, but if they were a nation state, I believe they would have violated the Geneva Convention's prohibition on attacking hospitals.
That said, I think this attack gives more weight to NSA critics that contend that their exploit research should be focused more on defense rather than offensive capabilities. Their carelessness combined with another group wanting to embarrass them is what allowed this indiscriminate attack to be inflicted on civilian infrastructure.
Old news. The more recent and much more insidious variant is calling the hospitals simply "valid targets".
Or in case of an unexpectedly intense media backlash, "a mistake".
Which is why we're currently in a situation where zero-days that NSA easily knew would be leaked were not patched at least a month ahead of time were left unpatched. The costs aren't significant enough to motivate them to respond to their failures.
People like to blame the capitalistic incentives for not upgrading from Windows XP but to me the failure to respond to this obvious outcome of the leaking of NSA malware is far more insidious. These sys-admins managing old systems were not prepared for state-financed malware to be released to C-level cyber criminals as a 'threat-actor'.
The poor state of corporate information security has been exposed in the last few days, but even that sorry state is nothing compared to the failed responsibility of the US government to value their citizens over internal objectives. Which is increasingly a common narrative that is a unsurprisingly a result of the unencumbered growth of the security state and by proxy the executive branch whom they ultimately report to.
Then, if the commanders force patients to stay by threat of violence to stay as human shields, that's a further war crime. The responsibility of casualties here is more with those using patients like this, than anyone else.
I'm not really advocating yes or no to bombing hospitals or schools to kill terrorist leaders hiding within - but your assertion is false. We will kill the hostages. All actual breaches involve a risk of % losses and that's baked into the decision to go in. Just a person somewhere trying to make a decision about the best outcome, for the "greater good".
Now before everyone buries me, total war is a rather rare military state, and probably only present a select few times in the 20th century.
A small prize to pay for not having nazies stomp around my backyard (almost literally, there are remnants of a nazi bunker not half a mile from where I live).
Edit: good book on the subject https://www.google.co.nz/amp/s/amp.theguardian.com/books/201...
Until today, there was nothing to apply if your computers were running XP or 2003. Guess which Windows versions are the most popular in UK hospitals? So I think your sentence should read like "Hospitals just happened to be disproportionately affected by this attack because they were forced to trust Microsoft would never put corporate profit before social responsibility."
"because a lot of them have ineffective IT departments/mangement and never applied the MS17-010 patch or are running ancient operating systems."
edit: And in fact, Microsoft did release a special XP hotfix for this vulnerability yesterday: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/msrc/2017/05/12/customer...
That doesn't tell a story of missing money or maintenance contracts. It tells of poor or even irresponsible and incompetent deployment procedures.
You shouldn't allow your CAT scanner to write over your patient records at a server. You shouldn't even have them in the same network segment.
So AFAICT 32-bit W10 can run most anything 32-bit XP can (likewise the 64-bit versions, though neither can run 16-bit programs), and IE11 can run most anything IE8 can (with minor configuration).
Is it software that relies on undocumented APIs? (I can't imagine why hospital software would require exotic methods of poking at the kernel or hardware).
Good luck finding a windows 10 compatible PC that has ISA slots for example. A lot of old custom hardware hooked right into the ISA bus
In my experience, industrial software is often pretty poorly designed, so it wouldn't surprise me if it's more common in a hospital environment.
We're talking about medical equipment, such as CAT scanners, dialysis machines, radiation therapy devices, chemical analysators and the like. Stuff where the computer interface could be an afterthought, added to a machine that was designed years ago with a physical knobs-and-dials type of user interface, and implemented and certified for a particular PC hardware generation. Then this interface PC becomes obsolete in 15 years even if the equipment itself would work for a hundred.
Other reasons for network connectivity include retrieving and sending image sequences and data files (basically the actual scans) which is done all day everyday.
The more alarming part is the retrieving of raw data which is the unreconstructed scan. This involves attaching a memory stick that is supposedly clean and uploading to that. Generally this stick is stuck into any old researcher PC and files are off loaded. Vendors don't particularly like this but getting 10-20 gig files off the scanner via command line is pretty clunky at the best of times.
That the NHS has not done this is their actual failing and negligence. It doesn't take that much money to move such devices to a quarantined network.
I'd guess that most hospitals don't do in-house development for the software they use. They paid someone else for it, probably at "enterprise" rates; it's hard to blame them for not having the budget or desire to replace working systems with new shiny (complete with new bugs) every X years.
...are how the state-of-the-art is advanced in other industries? Imagine if the FAA's response to an air disaster was, "Never mind root causes, you just should've bought a newer plane".
With that the GSN (Government Secure Network) is still a good ring-fence (that's outsourced as well) but once something gets inside, boom.
Now with the Trusts - they do have a local IT bod and in the cases I dealt with, somebody who knew how a PC works and enthusiastic, which is nice but also dangerous and I had to deal with a few issues that were as I call them "enthusiastically driven". As such you have all these Trusts operating at some level as independants and with varity of results.
One case, was one `IT manager` at a Trust who was posting on a alt.ph.uk (UK hacking usenet group) and offering up inside information about how they operated. That did not happen as the alt.ph.uk lot are a moral ethical lot and health services are taboo, so was rightly shot down and equally the chap was soon in talks with security services.
But with so many legacy systems, and an event driven support mentality (again Y2K being an exception) then such events can and will happen. Sadly many trusts lack provision to handle such issues and as with many IT area's are event driven instead of being proactive. Indeed ITIL the golden managment love-in solution for support management is event-driven and many an implementation ticks all the ITIL boxes of compliance and yet still lack proactive support. This alas is mostly gets compared to firefighters pouring water on buildings so they won't catch fire and sadly pretty darn systemic in many an organization.
With that the best anybody in IT can do it to flag up an issue in a documented way to cover there ass then the outlined event does transpire to prevent unfair scapegoating. A sad situation of which many of not all IT support staff in all capacities can attest too.
Ironicaly DOS based legacy systems with no networking and exitic ISA cards in some equally over-priced hardware still work and the need to replace them does become moot, alas that example gets projected upon other systems that are networked. But the whole health industry has many legacy setup's that are expensive to replace, more so if they work and the motivation to limit potential damage from future events above and beyond backup's becomes a management issue that lacks a voice for budgets.