A service provider for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) 111 emergency response team was hit by a major outage that led to the NHS being disconnected from its constituents.
The company that offers digital services for NHS 111, Advanced, said what they once thought was an outage turned out to be a cyberattack.
The attack disrupted electronic referrals to out-of-hours general practitioners as well as the phone service. Nonetheless, the NHS first said that the interruption was minimal.
UK NHS Outage
An extensive and continuous outage has been caused by a cyberattack that targeted the systems of Advance, a managed service provider (MSP) in the United Kingdom. This attack has affected the United Kingdom’s (NHS) 111 emergency services.
According to BleepingComputer, a large outage has impacted the Advanced Adastra client patient management solution, which is used by 85 percent of NHS 111 services, as well as various other services provided by the MSP.
NHS 111 Wales went on Twitter to confirm the problem and warn people about it. It said, “Plans are in place due to a system outage affecting 111 and GP after-hours services across Wales.”
Plans are in place due to a system outage impacting 111 and GP out-of-hour services across Wales.
The public can still call 111 but your call may take longer than usual to be answered.
If it's not urgent, head to https://t.co/XHQb6Pfx7f
— NHS 111 Wales (@NHS111Wales) August 5, 2022
The general population in the UK has been advised to use the online platform to access the emergency services offered by NHS 111 until the situation has been fixed. The public is still able to dial 111, although it may take somewhat longer than usual for their calls to be answered.
According to the NHS, a computer system that is used to send patients from NHS 111 Wales to out-of-hours GP providers is currently experiencing a serious continuous outage and has had a far-reaching effect, having an effect on each of the four nations that make up the United Kingdom.
As a response to the outage, a Business Continuity Incident has been declared, and partners throughout Wales have deployed strategies in order to ensure that services can continue to run normally.
The Cyberattack is Confirmed by Advanced
Advanced’s Chief Operating Officer, Simon Short, confirmed that the NHS outage was caused by a cyberattack.
According to the BBC, the National Crime Agency also stated that they are aware of the attack that took place and are in the process of working with Advanced.
A security issue was identified, which resulted in a loss of service. Short stated, “We can confirm that the incident is related to a cyber-attack and, as a precaution, we immediately isolated all our health and care environments.”
“Early intervention from our Incident Response Team limited this issue to a small number of servers representing 2% of our health and care infrastructure,” he added.
A spokesperson from the Scottish Government stated that their country is aware of the cyberattack that the NHS is experiencing.
Hence, they are working in collaboration with all the health boards in the other nations that have been affected. At the same time, they are also working with the National Cyber Security Centre and Advanced to fully understand the attack.
Furthermore, the spokesperson from Northern Ireland’s Department of Health indicated that they are doing their best to minimize the impact of the disruption.
Additionally, they stated that access to the company’s services from the HSC (Health and Social Care system) has been disabled while the incident is being contained as a precautionary measure to avoid risk to other critical systems and services.