UK government: North Korea was behind the WannaCry cyber-attack that crippled health service

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A patient appointment letter from a London NHS hospital, next to a virus and spyware warning message on a laptop screen at a home in London, following a major cyber attack on NHS computer systems.

North Korea was behind a cyber-attack that derailed Britain’s state-owned health service’s IT systems, the U.K. government said Friday.

“I think we should perhaps remember that this attack, we believe quite strongly, that this came from a foreign state,” U.K. Security Minister Ben Wallace told the BBC.

Asked which foreign state he believed was involved, Wallace said: “North Korea was the state we believe was involved in this worldwide attack on our systems.”

Malicious software called “WannaCry” targeted a number of businesses, government entities and the U.K.’s National Health Service (NHS) earlier this year. A form of “ransomware”, the software blocked access to a user’s computer until a sum of money was paid to the attacker.

Asked how sure he was that North Korea was the actor behind the cyber-attack, Wallace said: “We can be sure as possible. I can’t obviously go into the detail of intelligence, but it is widely believed in the (intelligence) community and across a number of countries that North Korea had taken this role.”

Wallace called on Western nations to develop a “doctrine of deterrent,” similar to nuclear deterrent strategy, to prevent further cyber-attacks.

“On a weekly basis, our systems are under attack from serious organized criminals using malware from abroad or even at home,” he said.

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