NHS Hospital
Image Courtesy: NHS

The WannaCry ransomware cyber attack which happened in May of 2017 targeted millions of PCs all over the world. The ransomware encrypted the data and demanded ransom payments in Bitcoin currency. Around 200,000 computers across 150 countries were affected. One of the largest agencies that were harshly affected by this ransomware was the National Health Service hospitals in the UK. On an estimate, around 70,000 devices were affected including computers, MRI scanners, theatre equipment and blood storage refrigerators.

The PCs were running on Windows XP and Windows 7. Microsoft released security patches to protect the PCs. The PCs running Windows 10 were completely immune to the ransomware attack. Since the NHS hospitals were badly struck by the attack one would naturally expect the hospitals to upgrade to the most secure version of Windows available- Windows 10.

But according to a research done by Digital Health Intelligence, it was found that only one percent of NHS trusts have upgraded to Windows 10. More than three-quarters of the acute trust and mental trust still rely on Windows 7.

Microsoft has already announced that support for Windows 7 will end on 2020. A spokesperson from NHS Digital said to Digital Health News:

NHS Digital is currently working with Microsoft and system partners on how best to provide a framework to move to Windows 10. Any subsequent agreement will be designed to expedite roll out and support organizations. The migration itself is, however, a local activity, and NHS organizations are all aware that support for the software ends in January 2020.

To get timely security patches and updates every agency must upgrade to Windows 10 but it is easier said than done. Upgrading the systems to Windows 10 is not done simply by installing Windows 10. There are a lot of difficulties concerned when upgrading completely to Windows 10. These problems were recently faced by the US Air Force. They had to replace a lot of computers to meet the minimum requirements to support Windows 10.

Even though it is an expensive thing to do, all agencies and institutions depending on Microsoft should upgrade their systems to Windows 10. This will ensure the security of their data from any more cyber attacks. We hope that NHS will soon find ways to upgrade their systems to Windows 10.