St John’s Ambulance website was HACKED for half an hour by money-grabbing thieves – but criminals were thwarted by the charity’s tech team before any records were doctored

  • St John Ambulance says that no ransom was paid to the unknown attackers
  • No passwords or credit card details were taken during the 30 minute attack
  • The charity has reported the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office, the Charity Commission and the police

Hackers targeting St John Ambulance were able to penetrate the charity’s IT defences, blocking its access to its online systems.

The ransomware, which saw unknown cybercriminals demand a cash payment to reverse their actions, lasted just half an hour before tech experts fixed the flaw.

St John Ambulance says that no ransom was paid and that no passwords or credit card details were taken. 

MailOnline has contacted the charity to find out exactly how many people’s data was caught up, but had not received a response at the time of publication. 

A statement on their website says that data from anyone who opened an account, booked a training course or attended one before February 2019 was affected. 

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Hackers targeting St John Ambulance were able to penetrate the charity’s IT defences, blocking its access to its online systems. The ransomware saw unknown cybercriminals demand a cash payment to reverse their actions (stock image) 

WHAT IS RANSOMWARE? 

Cybercriminals use ‘blockers’ to stop their victim accessing their device.

This may include a mesage telling them this is due to ‘illegal content’  such as porn being identified on their device. 

Anyone who has accessed porn online is probably less likely to take the matter up with law enforcement. 

Hackers then ask for money to be paid, often in the form of Bitcoins or other untraceable cryptocurrencies, for the block to be removed.

In May 2017, a massive ransomware virus attack called WannaCry spread to the computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organisations across the globe.

‘This has not affected our operational systems and we resolved the issue within half an hour,’ a spokesman for the charity said in the statement.

‘This means that we were temporarily blocked from accessing the system affected and the data customers gave us when booking a training course was locked.

‘We are confident that data has not been shared outside St John Ambulance.’

St John Ambulance has reported the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the Charity Commission and the police.

A spokesman for the ICO confirmed to the British technology magazine the Inquirer that it had received the report and was working to asses the information provided.

St John Ambulance added that no immediate action was necessary on the part of affected parties. 

This is not the first time that hackers have taken on a medical institution in the United Kingdom.

In May 2017, a massive ransomware virus attack called WannaCry spread to the computer systems of hundreds of private companies and public organisations across the globe.

That included the NHS, where hospitals and doctors’ surgeries in England were forced to turn away patients and cancel appointments.  

The WannaCry virus targeted older versions of Microsoft’s widely used Windows operating system.

It encrypts certain files on the computer and then blackmails the user for money in exchange for the access to the files.

It leaves the user with only two files: Instructions on what to do next and the Wanna Decryptor program itself.

Hackers asked for payments of around £230 ($300) in Bitcoin.

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