DHSC inks deal with Microsoft amid increasing cyber concerns

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the new deal will ensure the NHS uses 'the latest and most resilient software available' to address ongoing cyber risks.

[London, UK] The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has signed a new deal with Microsoft to have all NHS systems equipped with up-to-date software in an effort to minimise cyber threats amid increasing concerns.

The WannaCry ransomware attack from May last year, which disrupted operations at more than a third of NHS trusts and led to nearly 20,000 appointments being cancelled, prompted a series of actions to strengthen the cyber defence capabilities of the NHS.

But the Public Accounts Committee warned last week that WannaCry had only been a ‘foretaste of the devastation that could be wrought by a more malicious and sophisticated attack’.

MPs urged the DHSC and its arm’s-length bodies to provide an update on the implementation phase of recommendations set out in a national review looking at the impact of the WannaCry attack across the NHS, published in February of this year.

The DHSC has reportedly been investing £60m in addressing known vulnerabilities since 2017, with a further £150m to be spent during the next three years with the aim of improving the cyber resilience of the service.

The value of the new Microsoft deal has not been disclosed, but it is believed that it will help equip all systems with the latest Windows 10 software and provide organisations with ‘enhanced security intelligence’, according to NHS Digital.

The national provider of information, data and digital systems said the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection would feed into the new Security Operations Centre to create a ‘centralised, managed, and coordinated framework for the detection of malicious cyber activity and visibility around how threats try to move across the organisation’.

Health and Social Care Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

“We have been building the capability of NHS systems over a number of years, but there is always more to do to future-proof our NHS against this threat.

“This new technology will ensure the NHS can use the latest and most resilient software available – something the public rightly expect.”

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