Problems with cyber security in NHS organisations were highlighted past year by Dame Fiona Caldicott, the national data guardian, who warned that issues were given insufficient priority and that health bodies persisted in using obsolete computer systems, The Times said.
In a snap election campaign which May has dominated so far, the debate over the cyber attack on the NHS forced her onto the defensive though it was not immediately clear what impact, if any, there would be on her popularity. Beware, for WannaCry has just begun and already, the virus - a malware or more precisely a ransomware - has taken down as many as 200,000 computers in more than 150 countries around the world.
The NHS was one of many major global organisations affected, with 47 trusts hit.
The attack plunged dozens of hospitals and doctors surgeries in England and Wales into chaos, with operations cancelled, ambulances diverted and patients moved.
It comes amid warnings the crisis could spread to other sectors.
It said in a statement: "NHS Digital issued a targeted update on a secure portal accessible to NHS staff on April 25, and then via a bulletin to more than 10,000 security and IT professionals on April 27 to alert them to this specific issue".
Their letter last July proposed a 13-point plan to ensure cyber security was improved after a review by Caldicott which found "significant use of software within the sector that is no longer supported by the manufacturer ... leaving systems exposed to common types of cyberattack".
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The report said the continued use of "outdated systems" was "one of the most pressing issues facing IT infrastructure" in the NHS.
Liberal Democrats are calling for an inquiry into the failure.
"It seems like Jeremy Hunt is hiding", Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said. "I will get in touch with him and ask him where he is".
"There's this massive cybersecurity crisis that's been unfolding".
The US government should have treated the stealing of the NSA tool - WannaCry that was apparently modified for Friday's cyber-attack by anonymous hackers - and applied the same rules and remedial measures to it as it would do in case someone stole the Tomahawk missiles from its military.
Europol, the pan-EU crime-fighting agency, says the threat is escalating and predicted the number of ransomware victims is likely to grow across the public and private sectors.
The hackers remain undetected but are believed to have so far gathered $42,000 in ransom payments from about 110 victims. Users are also threatened with having all their files permanently deleted if the ransom isn't paid in a week. The Cert-In advisory is accompanied by steps that can be taken to prevent infection, and the Microsoft Security Bulletin MS17-010 contains additional details on which systems are affected and how to fix the security holes. A spokesman for May said the annual information technology budget in the NHS was 4.2 billion pounds and that an extra 50 million pounds had been allocated for updating cyber security. The company responded to the attacks with a strongly worded blog post, criticizing governments for "stockpiling" information about cybersecurity vulnerabilities, and likeningthe WannaCry attack to the United States military "having some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen".
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