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20 November 2008, 10:21

Computer virus brings London hospital networks to a standstill

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The BBC reports that three London hospitals have had to switch their computers and networks off because of a computer virus. A hospital spokesman is quoted as saying the virus was "not malicious", and the infection was "self-contained". Sophos, a British producer of antivirus software, said it was the Mytob Windows worm, which is certainly not harmless because it spies on data and opens a backdoor to the infected system. Mytob spreads via email. Apparently, however, it does no direct damage, by for example, deleting data.

The report says three linked hospitals – St Bartholomew's ("Barts"), the Royal London Hospital, and the London Chest Hospital – were compelled to change over to an emergency system. Doctors had to resort to pen and paper. Patients were said still to have been accepted, though ambulances were diverted to other hospitals as a precaution. The transport of elderly patients to attend routine appointments is also reported to have been disrupted. The problem has now been eliminated, and normal operation has been resumed.

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