Europol director calls on 'all sectors' to take cyber security threat seriously

Credit: Peston on Sunday

The malware attack that paralysed parts of the NHS shows that "all sectors" should take cyber security "absolutely seriously", the director of Europol has said,

Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday, Rob Wainwright warned the healthcare sector "in many countries" was particularly vulnerable, but that all organisations should ensure they prioritised cyber security and updated their systems.

"We have been cornered for some time that the healthcare sector in many countries are particularly vulnerable. They're processing a lot of sensitive data, very often on legacy systems," he told host Robert Peston.

According to Europol the ransomware attack that affected 45 NHS divisions was part of a worldwide incident that has hit more than 100,000 organizations in 150 countries.

Mr Wainwright said that few of the businesses affected had been banks as the sector had grown use to being the target of cyber crime.

"Very few banks, if any in Europe, have been affected by this and that's because they've learned through painful experience about being the number one target for cyber crime, the value of having a proper strategy in place."

Rasomware attacks such as the one on the NHS take over data on a system and demand a payment from users in return for unlocking it.

Mr Wainwright said Europol was working on the basis the cyber attack was carried out by criminals rather than terrorists, but noted that "remarkably few" payments had been made so far.

He told Peston: "Most people are not paying this, so there ain't a lot of money being made with this by criminal organisations so far."