The UK’s National Health Service, one of the highest-profile victims of last year’s devastating WannaCry ransomware attack, has pledged to phase out fax machines from its trusts by 2020.
NHS made headlines in 2017 when its entire fleet of healthcare institutions fell victim to WannaCry, the world’s virulent ransomware outbreak. Like many other victims of the WannaCry wrath, NHS had poor security practices in place and extremely outdated software on its systems (i.e. Windows XP).
In a bid to prevent history from repeating itself, NHS is now pledging to do away with one of the oldest technologies still in its IT infrastructure: fax machines. The plans were announced by Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, who mandated the use of modern communication methods, like secure email.
According to The Independent, Richard Kerr, chair of the Royal College of Surgeons Commission on the Future of Surgery, said it was “absurd” that NHS still used fax machines.
“Most other organisations scrapped fax machines in the early 2000s and it is high time the NHS caught up,” he said. “The RCS supports the ban on fax machines that will come into place in March 2020.
“As these digital technologies begin to play a bigger part in how we deliver healthcare it is crucial that we invest in better ways of communicating the vast amount of patient information that is going to be generated,” Kerr added.