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Computer Virus Attacked Two Scottish Hospitals

Due to a PC worm that infected networking systems of two hospitals in Scotland in the first week of March 2009, appointments for cancer patients had to be postponed. The infection took place at the laboratory computers at the Stobhill and Gartnavel General hospitals and the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Care Centre.

A description of the PC virus given by the staff member reveals that it matches the outbreak of malicious Conficker worm that has recently attacked several systems at Sheffield hospital (UK).

A senior staff member at the Gartnavel hospital states that they have called it a computer worm after identifying it. The worm went deeper into the system where it replicates itself and bypass some of the very strong firewalls, as reported by The Herald on March 6, 2009.

He also revealed that the Beatson systems had been closed since lunch time on March 4, 2009. He also said that the systems could not be used as they are totally non-functional.

To enable computer experts to clean the damage done by the worm, systems were shut down for two days. Staff had been working very hard to ensure that all patients remain unaffected from systems problems. They have also come up with additional options for patients whose appointments were postponed. For this, a back up computer is arranged to reschedule the appointments to meet the specific dates.

Security analysts have compared the outbreak to the infection of systems at three hospitals in London named St Bartholomew's, the Royal London Hospital and The London Chest Hospital by the MyTob worm in December 2008. Several patients faced problems in getting critical test results because of the virus.

Security researchers also say that it is a problem not only in Scotland, but has caused problems to several departments in the UK.

Similarly, services given to patients were blocked as hospitals in Tyneside [northern England] were attacked by a system bug. The worm resulted in closing of many systems for around three weeks.

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