47 percent of NHS Trusts in England have been hit by ransomware in the past year, according to data from a Freedom Of Information (FOI) request.

The FOI requests were filed by security company NCC Group. 60 Trusts responded with 31 of these withheld information with many citing patient confidentiality.

As many as 28 confirmed they had indeed been a victim of ransomware. Only one Trust said they had not been hit in the last year, but that they had been infected in the past.

Ollie Whitehouse, technical director at NCC Group said: “the damage that a successful ransomware attack can cause makes these findings not simply an issue for a Trust's IT team, but for its board of directors too. Paying the ransom – which isn't something we would advise – can cost significant sums of money, yet losing patient data would be a nightmare scenario for an NHS Trust.”

Whitehouse continued: “There is no silver bullet or one single solution that can stop this type of attack, despite what many security companies may claim. Instead, we would recommend a multi-layered approach, applying robust controls such as regular patching of software, using up-to-date anti-virus and educating staff as to the risks posed by phishing and ransomware.”