Hospitals in United Kingdom have tech problems after possible large-scale cyberattack

British Prime Minister Theresa May said that the cyberattack was part of a broader worldwide attack.

"We are aware that a number of NHS (National Health Service) organizations have reported they have suffered from a ransomware attack", May said, while speaking on the campaign trail in the UK. "This is not targeted at the NHS. A number of countries and organizations have been affected".

Security firm Kaspersky Lab has recorded more than 45,000 attacks in 74 countries in the past 10 hours. CNN has not independently confirmed that number.

British hospitals and clinics were forced to turn away patients because their computers were infected by a pernicious new form of "ransomware" that rapidly spread across the globe, demanding payments of as much as $600 to restore access and scrambling data.

The day began - here on the U.S. East Coast, anyway - with news that more than a dozen hospitals in England were simultaneously struck by a ransomware attack.

At least 16 organizations connected to the National Health Service (NHS) in England reported being affected. NHS Digital said that it does not have any evidence that patient data has been compromised, but the organization did not reveal which systems have been affected.

"Of course it is important that we have set up the National Cyber Security Centre and they are able to work with the NHS organisations concerned and to ensure that they are supported and patient safety is protected".

Hospitals and telecom companies in western Europe, Russia, and Asia were also affected, the MalwareHunterTeam told the New York Times.

Spain's government said the ransomware attack has impacted Telefonica and other Spanish companies.

Spain's Telefonica was among the companies hit.

Spain's Ministry of Energy, Tourism and Digital Agenda confirms the intrusion, describing it as "punctual attacks".

The interior ministry said on its website that around 1,000 computers had been infected but it had localised the virus.

But Alan Woodward, visiting professor of computing at the University of Surrey, said he did not believe it was a targeted attack.

And that's not even the worst of it.

"Once inside a network it seeks out and affects any susceptible computer it can find on the network", he said.

Krishna Chinthapalli, a doctor at Britain's National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery who wrote a paper on cybersecurity for the British Medical Journal, warned that British hospitals' old operating systems and store of confidential patient information made them an ideal target for blackmailers.

He added, "It is a frightful lesson about why using supported software, and keeping that software updated, is so important". It can infect other computers on the same wireless network. Officials there said the hospitals in the system are asking people not to call and warning that non-urgent services will be delayed.

The National Cyber Security Centre, part of the GCHQ electronic intelligence agency, said it was working with police and the health system to investigate the attack.

The attack, initially detected at hospitals and other medical facilities in the United Kingdom and some large enterprises in Spain, has spread to more than 70 countries and affects more than 45,000 victims, researchers at Kaspersky Lab said.

A spokesman for Barts Health NHS Trust in London said it was experiencing "major IT disruption" and delays at all four of its hospitals.

"Ambulances are being diverted to neighbouring hospitals".

Additionally, a number of hospitals have reported "significant problems" with their IT systems and their telephone networks, reports the Daily Mirror.

Patrick Ward, 47, a sales director at Purbeck Ice Cream, from Dorset in England, poses for photographs after giving media interviews after his heart operation scheduled today was cancelled because of a cyberattack, outside St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, Friday, May 12, 2017. Experts say that home users are probably safer, because they are more likely to have let updates install on their machines.

The most worrying development concerned problems with the hospital's referral system, Sean said.

Forcepoint Security Labs said that "a major malicious email campaign" consisting of almost five million emails per hour was spreading the new ransomware.

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