Why ‘WannaCry’ Malware Caused Chaos for National Health Service in U.K.

LONDON — Why would doctors rely on computers running ancient software?

Last week’s worldwide cyberattack potentially put lives at risk by paralyzing computers at state-run medical facilities across the U.K. — including many using discontinued Windows XP.

Thousands of operations and appointments had to be canceled as the “WannaCry” malware threatened to delete crucial files unless ransoms of $300 and $600 were paid.

It may seem obvious that hospitals would have robust cybersecurity strategies to prevent any such disruptions.

However, the National Health Service (NHS) is a radically different beast from the U.S. healthcare system.

And the answer — and who’s to blame — differs depending on who you speak with.

Unlike in America, where treatment can result in hefty medical bills, the government-run NHS treats people for free. That is, after you count the £120 billion in taxes (around $155 billion) that pays for the healthcare behemoth each year.

The cyberattack has quickly become another political football in the years-long battle over the funding, remit, and the existential future of the NHS.

For critics of the U.K.’s right-wing Conservative government, the health service succumbed to “WannaCry” due to a lack of…

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