Daily Archives: May 13, 2017


That NHS Ransomware Attack

A few important points not featuring in the wall to wall media coverage

This is US government security service technology, developed by the NSA. Edward Snowden has confirmed this and nobody is denying it. You might think that would be a prominent part of the story, but strangely it isn’t.

The arms race between major powers to develop cyber warfare and cyber surveillance capacity is a massive threat to the security of the internet. It is the very governments who most like to claim they need to intervene to protect us, who are in fact creating the dangers they cite. This is NSA software; WikiLeaks “Vault 7” leak has revealed the similar massive effort at the CIA in developing destructive software.

That is not to say the NSA or US government is behind this worldwide attack. But it is to say that western governments are spending billions of pounds on developing malware, which they cannot themselves keep safe. This should be viewed in the same light as chemical weapons programmes. Urgent international action to outlaw weaponised malware development should be a priority for the international community, as the danger to increasingly IT dependent services is extreme. The United States is the biggest aggressor and the biggest danger.

Theresa May as Home Secretary was responsible for UK cyber defences for seven years. So the Tory efforts to blame everybody else today are misplaced. The buck stops with May.

Underfunded NHS Trusts have privatised IT management and outsourced the control and security of their computer systems to contractors, as part of the general rip-up of the NHS to provide private profit. These companies are more interested in maximising profits than safeguarding against contingent attacks. Very few NHS Trusts now employ their own NHS team of dedicated computer specialists maintaining and caring for their systems, including their defences.

This process has been accelerated under the Tories, but it must not be forgotten it was started by New Labour under Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. New Labour’s 2002 policy document “Developing 21st Century IT Support for the NHS” concluded that Option 2 was the way forward: “Selectively outsource major components of the NHS IT programme”. That was New Labour. The Tories have accelerated and extended it, and chronically underfunded the NHS. That is why so little money has gone into maintaining NHS IT systems, and what little has gone in has had little effect.

Corporate profits have been great though. Remember that extraordinary numbers of MPs have financial links to private healthcare firms. If the Tories win a landslide, doubtless the numbers of MPs personally profiting from NHS privatisation will increase still further.

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BBC Hits New Low 95

The promotion of independent thinking, and of scepticism about what “news” you are told, is the primary purpose of this blog. So I cannot complain when people extend that scepticism towards me, too.

A gentleman from Fife has written to tell me that he was not inclined to believe my statement that the BBC have agreed that, when Theresa May appears on the special edition of Question Time that will “replace” the leaders’ debate, the questions to May will be pre-approved by her staff and May will know the questions in advance. He therefore contacted the BBC for confirmation.

He has now received a reply from the BBC, that Question Time is bought by the BBC from an independent private production company, so the BBC are not responsible for the arrangements.

I am happy to report he believes me now.

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