On That Dusseldorf Hospital Ransomware Attack and the Resultant Death

Wired has a detailed story about the ransomware attack on a Dusseldorf hospital, the one that resulted in an ambulance being redirected to a more distant hospital and the patient dying. The police wanted to prosecute the ransomware attackers for negligent homicide, but the details were more complicated:

After a detailed investigation involving consultations with medical professionals, an autopsy, and a minute-by-minute breakdown of events, Hartmann believes that the severity of the victim’s medical diagnosis at the time she was picked up was such that she would have died regardless of which hospital she had been admitted to. “The delay was of no relevance to the final outcome,” Hartmann says. “The medical condition was the sole cause of the death, and this is entirely independent from the cyberattack.” He likens it to hitting a dead body while driving: while you might be breaking the speed limit, you’re not responsible for the death.

So while this might not be an example of death by cyberattack, the article correctly notes that it’s only a matter of time:

But it’s only a matter of time, Hartmann believes, before ransomware does directly cause a death. “Where the patient is suffering from a slightly less severe condition, the attack could certainly be a decisive factor,” he says. “This is because the inability to receive treatment can have severe implications for those who require emergency services.” Success at bringing a charge might set an important precedent for future cases, thereby deepening the toolkit of prosecutors beyond the typical cybercrime statutes.

“The main hurdle will be one of proof,” Urban says. “Legal causation will be there as soon as the prosecution can prove that the person died earlier, even if it’s only a few hours, because of the hack, but this is never easy to prove.” With the Düsseldorf attack, it was not possible to establish that the victim could have survived much longer, but in general it’s “absolutely possible” that hackers could be found guilty of manslaughter, Urban argues.

And where causation is established, Hartmann points out that exposure for criminal prosecution stretches beyond the hackers. Instead, anyone who can be shown to have contributed to the hack may also be prosecuted, he says. In the Düsseldorf case, for example, his team was preparing to consider the culpability of the hospital’s IT staff. Could they have better defended the hospital by monitoring the network more closely, for instance?

Posted on November 24, 2020 at 6:01 AM35 Comments


Miguel Farah November 24, 2020 6:28 AM

In the Düsseldorf case, for example, his team was preparing to consider the culpability of the hospital’s IT staff. Could they have better defended the hospital by monitoring the network more closely, for instance?

The IT workers (the sempiternal low hanging fruit), or upwards the hierarchy to the true culprits? We all know horror stories where the problem were negligent workers (one lone idiot or several in a circle of overconfidence, etc.), and others where the IT staff was doing what they could, while repeatedly trying to warn the mid-level bosses or the C*Os about a risk, frustrated at their pleas being unheeded, and then they themselves being on the ax when the shiRt finally hit the fan. So which will it be here?

The Flower of Marxism November 24, 2020 7:33 AM

frustrated at their pleas being unheeded, and then they themselves being on the ax when the shiRt finally hit the fan.

If that’s the case, it’s high time the IT staff unionise.

Winter November 24, 2020 8:04 AM

@The Flower
“If that’s the case, it’s high time the IT staff unionise.”

This is Germany, not the USA. The Union situation in Germany is quite different.

David Leppik November 24, 2020 12:03 PM

There’s a slippery slope when it comes to blaming the IT department; in any complex situation it’s hard to avoid being culpable for something. Medical security is particularly fraught, because most of the time, the security system mainly acts to delay time-critical care (e.g. not being able to share/access medical records quickly) when there’s no visible, imminent security threat. Patch computers immediately, avoid a zero-day threat—but also risk a buggy patch that shuts things down.

The ransomware attackers are entirely different. They are not making good-faith efforts to protect lives, they are deliberately putting lives at risk. Even if they aren’t specifically targeting hospital systems, they know that hospitals are likely to be hit. They are morally responsible for every life they risk.

xcv November 24, 2020 1:08 PM

@David Leppik

Patch computers immediately, avoid a zero-day threat—but also risk a buggy patch that shuts things down.

This is where proprietary software fails, and free and open source wins.

People’s clothes are falling apart, and they want a patch, but they don’t own a sewing machine or even so much as a needle and thread.


“Free software” means software that respects users’ freedom and community. Roughly, it means that the users have the freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price.

Worth a lot more money, and some things that money just can’t buy. Much nicer clothes, and a better fashion sense, too.

David November 24, 2020 1:10 PM

The subsequent beheadings won’t be carried out out of justice but of PR. The low ranking Linux admins won’t take the hit. The CISO and CIO will, as they should.

JonKnowsNothing November 24, 2020 3:35 PM

@xcv @David Leppik

re: Patch computers immediately, avoid a zero-day threat—but also risk a buggy patch that shuts things down.

This is where proprietary software fails, and free and open source wins.

Not so sure about Open Source being any better.

The latest edition of Firefox 83.0 crashed my system, took 10 hours and 2 days to recover, lost data that they say “should not get lost” and “surprise” there’s no Rollback and no recovery of the previous version and they didn’t even bother with a warning to “backup your stuff that isn’t supposed to get trashed” or to do a “safety-temp-save just in case we f-d the updater” and all previous edition installers regardless of their index number download the same borked update…

Yeppers just like COVID-19 No-Masks, I accepted that for N-Years I’d never had a problem with a FF update, this time would not be different.

Well, got a better mask on my computer now.

There’s no way to tell until you do the update no matter how many “release notes” you read.

xcv November 24, 2020 3:43 PM


Not so sure about Open Source being any better.

The latest edition of Firefox 83.0 crashed my system, took 10 hours and 2 days to recover, lost data that they say “should not get lost” and “surprise” there’s no Rollback and no recovery of the previous version

Microsoft Windows crashed, and you’re blaming it on free and open source.

JonKnowsNothing November 24, 2020 4:08 PM


The latest edition of Firefox 83.0 crashed my system

@xcv Microsoft Windows crashed, and you’re blaming it on free and open source.

Noooo, Firefox 83.0 crashed the system. It took 10 hours and 2 days to uncover what caused the crash. Windows was just fine, Firefox was not.

I don’t particularly feel inclined to tell you what it was….

Anders November 24, 2020 4:26 PM


What OS? Win10 or 7? 64 or 32 bit?

I’m also very wary with FF updates.
I’m trying to keep the tried stable version as long
as possible because i have bad experience with updates
in the past as well. I also remember very vividly the case
when specific Opera version (after update) caused BSOD
just visiting certain websites. It was just like walking
on the mine field – wrong step (site) and KABOOM!

Anders November 24, 2020 4:37 PM


Tervitus Tõnis. Kuidas läheb, kas kõik korras?
(harva saab ju siia blogisse õ tähte kirjutada 🙂 )

SpaceLifeForm November 24, 2020 4:49 PM

@ Anders, ALL

Reminds me of Russian Joke.

There is a bad car accident.

Victim in bad shape. Ambulance to scene. Victim loaded into ambulance, but conscious.

Victim: Where are you taking me?

Driver: To the Morgue.

Victim: Why? I’m not dead yet!

Driver: You will be by the time we get there.

Clive Robinson November 24, 2020 6:23 PM

@ JonKnowsNothing, ALL,

There’s no way to tell until you do the update no matter how many “release notes” you read.

In the UK we have a Financial Conduct Authority, that regulates parts of the Finance Industry… Thus there is a now quite old –thirty to fourty years– requirment of a disclaimer be added to all adverts etc for financial products. That basically says,

“Past performance is no indicator of future performance”.

The same can be said of Moore’s Law[1] and much else in the tech industry and people need to remember that.

As for “consumer software” I care not where it comes from or if it is closed or open source. I regard it all as about to “blow up in my face” at any and all times. Because the code size goes up geometrically but the “defects per line of code” has hardly changed in sizable fractions of a decade. Thus by simple maths consumer software is all getting less reliable with time.

Which is just another reason why, the one area above all others where the advice has been consistent since before I can remember –because I was not yet born– has been “Backup before you patch / update / upgrade”.

Heck the original hardware that *nix file systems ran on was so unreliable they went to great lengths to try and make backing up as effective as possible so that recovery was not just possible but relatively quickly.

Unfortunately Microsoft finally got into the hard drive game when hardware was a little more reliable, thus their file systems have never been designed with having to be built back from pieces on multiple drives. It’s one of the reasons why I used to build MS file systems by hand using *nix tools the likes of “debug” and avoided NTFS like the plaque when ever possible.

But as a computer journalist I used to know once pointed out he had atleast two machines ay any one time. The first ran an early version of MSDOS and had his “writing tools”, the second was what he considered a “scrapper” that had the latest MS OS that he put all the new software he had to review that he just purged and reinstalled from a base backup tape each time. He also had a third box that he did software development on for his book writing but he was always cautious with that for “consistancy” rather than anything else.

The point is sometimes you need not just backups but a “scrapper” for Internet browsing and to dry run any upgrades on before touching your actual “personal” computer, where you have documents, photos and other personal or important stuff.

For some years now my “personal” computer has spent much of it’s time living in a safe that is rated against not just criminals but fire as well. I take it out to use it and put it back when done. I back up all “user” data and do not do patching or upgrades to it, nor does it ever get connected to “communications”. It’s backups are kept in other similar safes effectively “off site”. It is becoming “problematic” because modern hardware is now effectively 64bit and not all 32bit programs will work[2].

Am I paranoid, well yes to those under fourty, who never lived with having to rebuild file systems on a near weekly basis back when SysAdmins had real muscles from bashing KSR teletypes back in the 1970’s and use of a soldering iron was part of the job.

Whilst I’ve yet to have to put back together one of my “work systems”, that could be because I do both “burn in” and “Preventative Maintenance”. Yes I’ve had juvenile failures on burn in and I pull a drive the moment I start detecting low level issues or it’s reached a run time value of around 2/3rds of the MTTF and replace it. The pulled drives end out their lives in “scrapper” systems where if they crash they crash it’s of no importance.

Whilst I appreciate few others would work the way I do and many could not afford to old habits that give high reliability thus availability die hard.

But one thing I would urge people to do is to put two drives in their “personal” system where they can and mirror them, as well as doing sensible backups. The relatively small extra cost can save a lot of heart ache and expense down the road. Especially in these days of increasing malware including ransomware (for which the only sane mitigation is “do not connect the system up to communications of any kind”).

[1] As Wikipedia correctly points out,

“Moore’s law is an observation and projection of a historical trend. Rather than a law of physics, it is an empirical relationship linked to gains from experience in production. ”

That is it is not a “law” in the accepted sense, but just an observation at best. It’s been argued by some that Intel have over the years “fluffed” their semiconductor development to keep Moore happy by following his observation…

[2] It’s why I’ve been investing some time recently in “emmulation” for running both 16bit and 32bit software on 64bit systems. In many ways I’ve had an easier time of it than others would as I’m mainly a CLI worker, and windows be it MS or X is just an easy way to have more “CLI windows” open at the same time.

Anders November 24, 2020 6:52 PM


Since you avoid NTFS like plague, read this.


At least Microsoft tests something 🙂

Tõnis November 24, 2020 7:06 PM

Jah @Anders, kõik läheb hästi! Tore Sinu käest kuulda; ma ei ole alati siin aktiivne, aga loen tihti ja on alati hea meel Sind lugeda! Loodan, et seal on ka kõik korras!

lurker November 24, 2020 8:03 PM


The latest edition of Firefox 83.0 crashed my system, …

Disclaimer: Other browsers are available…

John November 24, 2020 8:25 PM

So, to paraphrase you.
A browser update crashed your Operating System and caused you to lose data. Gotta tell you that means your operating system is defective. A browser, no matter how defective, should never cause the operating system to crash. This is of course assuming the operating system is correctly implemented. Blaming the Fire Fox upgrade for the crash and data loss is equivalent to blaming a brake failure, causing a crash because you just installed a new radio in your car.

JonKnowsNothing November 24, 2020 8:38 PM


re: Firefox 83.0 and a series of unfortunate events with my computer

There are all sorts of options and mitigations and bug-reports whenever anything goes pear-shaped whether its a PC, software, hardware or a malfunction in an oven.

One of the security issues is how does the ordinary schmoe fix any of it?
  For the most part they cannot.

In the case of Firefox 83.0, like the vast majority of software bloat systems, they provided a one-way-upgrade to some new and not-requested-by-me “exciting features to bring the internet closer than ever”.

Because it was a one-way upgrade, not advertised as a one-way, and the features having been briefly reviewed by trade journals and by a wrong-view-that-I-had-things-under-control the installer found a way to prove, yet again, software cannot be trusted.

It’s not about blaming Firefox because I am sure that they intended things to go perfectly and for their new-stuff to be welcomed by one and by all, and that they would be hailed as True Believers In Internet Freedoms… etc. etc. etc.

It’s that none of it is really “needed”. It’s building bloat on top of a deflating internet balloon and there are so many permutations that it’s not possible to catch every aspect.

It’s laudable that they try …
It was my job to make sure they didn’t experiment with my computer.
One step closer to the complete solution: pull the plug.

ht tps://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/nov/16/cornwall-cooker-deaths-turkish-company-not-aware-of-risk
  Manufacturer of cookers linked to five deaths tells inquest it was not aware of risk of carbon monoxide building up

(url fractured to prevent autorun)

xcv November 24, 2020 8:42 PM


Windows was just fine, Firefox was not.

I don’t particularly feel inclined to tell you what it was….

Any particular website you are viewing, or other people’s opinions of content or appropriateness, should not be able to cause the browser to crash, let alone destabilize the entire operating system.

It’s a basic operating system and web browser architecture problem.

SpaceLifeForm November 25, 2020 12:30 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing

Your Windows OS environment should not have become corrupted.

Unless, the filesystem (NTFS?) already was corrupted, and what it thought was free blocks were in fact in-use blocks.


Clive Robinson November 25, 2020 2:02 AM

@ JonKnowsNothing,

One of the security issues is how does the ordinary schmoe fix any of it?

The answer appears to be,

“They can not by design”

That is most non trivial software these days is a mess of errors hidden behind needless complexity and even trying to remove it leaves land mines behind waiting to be tripped.

Microsoft in particular have designed their systems to be “user friendly” their real meaning of the term is that the user untrusted in every way and is quite deliberately shut out of control of the system they have purchased and assume they own.

Google has done likewise with Android, the source code may be available but the user is “locked out for their own good”.

As for Apple, they just lock everyone out as legal policy.

Many people are happy with this, because they want to do things now and not worry about the consequences 3,5,7 or more years down the road. Or in the case of Amazon anything beyond six months if you are lucky.

Increasingly these days the users hardware is becoming just a window, in that the functional or business logic is nolonger on the users system or it is transitory at best. That is it is on a computer some place in the world the users system has to connect to. However where is mostly anybodies guess, including most who work for the organisation. So any of a myriad of vagueries will deny the user what they have paid for with no hope of restitution, as others can always be presumed to be at fault.

The fact that various standards bodies have been complicit in this and in the process made themselves untrustworthy does not help.

As others here have indicated, they nolonger use the likes of FF or similar all in web browser, instead they use more primative tools, to fetch what is desired and leave the rest to fester and fester on the machines of others less skilled, and the mainly rapcious suppliers servers.

As I’ve indicated I turn of cookies by default and unless I know the website can be trusted javascript as well.

In most cases I loose nothing and often gain. Because many sites function with out them and you get very much increased access speeds and only a fraction of the bandwidth is needed. Those “Condo Nasty” and “die in darkness” sites rarely offer anything worth the risk of the loads of dangerous malvertising etc that comes with them, and those who put in place “paywalls” generaly have nothing to offer that can not be found elsewhere without restrictions.

Which brings us to your point of,

It’s building bloat on top of a deflating internet balloon…

It raise the question of just how many “airhead sprinkles” are going to stave of the inevitable, of the Internet deflating to near nothing of worth. As people are realising the “web” is not paved with gold but mainly poison of one form or another.

As an analogy it is now a maze, with lots of twisty little passages, many of which have traps or poisond bait, and we the users are effectively the rats in a dangerous if not leathal sociological experiment. Those that created the danger, are now the ones claiming to be the ones to protect you but first you have to sign over your soul…

Which is “the sort of stupid” that ICTsec can not fix.

It is like those stories of overly inbred turkeys that can nolonger mate as they have no capacity to remember how and worse drown in the rain by putting their heads back and opening their beaks… They are so far off of the evolutionary path they only survive because they are protected from themselves, untill such time as they pay the price demanded that they can not comprehend is waiting for them…

Do we want such a fate? Probably not, but we appear to be sleepwalking down that path. So how to avoid it?

As Graham Nash observed up in Salford England five decades or more ago,

“Teach you children well Your father’s hell did slowly go by And feed them on your dreams”

It was back in the 1960’s that parents started to stop teaching their children at home and abdecated that responsability to others. And the resulting crop that followed in just a few short generations is now being reaped, and “The Devil’s due” collected from them and heaven alone knows how many future generations.

JonKnowsNothing November 25, 2020 2:48 AM

@Clive @All

re: by design…

There are probably enough By-Design-Failure stories to fill volumes.

Sometimes the smallest of “requests” turns out to be Not-A-Good-One but if it was tagged as small-work it might land on your desk as a fill-in project. There were two ways to deal with these.

1, do it as written even if it would cause problems elsewhere (no es my job)
2, ask more questions before sailing over the edge (what abouts)

Those that did Option 1, often got more money and more promotions even though after it was “done” the project took on a life of it’s own because it wasn’t a small-work project to begin with.

Those that tried Option 2, and considered the request in terms of the larger scheme of things, were labeled NotTeamPlayers, which in the day, led to a very short walk out the door. When the mandatory bottom-cut vote came around, if you hadn’t greased enough big wheels to gain some protection the door hit you in the rear.

One of those small-work projects was to add an “alarm bell” for certain conditions. As the box was normally stored in a closet, there wouldn’t be anyone to hear it. The bell would go off as requested, no problemo. The requestor was asked did they want a way to turn off the ring-a-ding-ding because that wasn’t in the spec, the small-work ended up looking like The King’s Breakfast.

Then there is the old standby trick of only doing half. If you worked that angle right, you never had any turn-ins or completed projects, you kept working on the half. So best case you never had any bugs because you never had any code to check and worst case they sent out the half with a lot of release-notes about how it wasn’t ready but they thought the customer would like it anyway.

ht tps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A._A._Milne
ht tps://allpoetry.com/The-King’s-Breakfast

The King’s Breakfast
The King asked
The Queen, and
The Queen asked
The Dairymaid:
“Could we have some butter for
The Royal slice of bread?”
The Queen asked the Dairymaid,
The Dairymaid
Said, “Certainly,
I’ll go and tell the cow
Before she goes to bed.”

The Dairymaid
She curtsied,
And went and told
The Alderney:
“Don’t forget the butter for
The Royal slice of bread.”
The Alderney
Said sleepily:
“You’d better tell
His Majesty
That many people nowadays
Like marmalade

The Dairymaid
Said, “Fancy!”
And went to
Her Majesty.
She curtsied to the Queen, and
She turned a little red:
“Excuse me,
Your Majesty,
For taking of
The liberty,
But marmalade is tasty, if
It’s very

The Queen said
And went to
His Majesty:
“Talking of the butter for
The royal slice of bread,
Many people
Think that
Is nicer.
Would you like to try a little

The King said,
And then he said,
“Oh, deary me!”
The King sobbed, “Oh, deary me!”
And went back to bed.
He whimpered,
“Could call me
A fussy man;
I only want
A little bit
Of butter for
My bread!”

The Queen said,
“There, there!”
And went to
The Dairymaid.
The Dairymaid
Said, “There, there!”
And went to the shed.
The cow said,
“There, there!
I didn’t really
Mean it;
Here’s milk for his porringer,
And butter for his bread.”

The Queen took
The butter
And brought it to
His Majesty;
The King said,
“Butter, eh?”
And bounced out of bed.
“Nobody,” he said,
As he kissed her
“Nobody,” he said,
As he slid down the banisters,
My darling,
Could call me
A fussy man –
I do like a little bit of butter to my bread!”

(note: the text looks OK in preview…)
(url fractured to prevent autorun)

Peter A. November 25, 2020 7:28 AM

People did not get into hospital in time because of ransomware and you charge hackers for spreading a worm and IT guys with manslaughter. Fine, but who’s going to be charged for those dead because they did not get admitted in time because of COVID “procedures” taking hours on end? Like waiting 6+ hours for an appendix surgery and dying in the ambulance, because the COVID tests results did not come, so they didn’t know where to admit the person – into the special COVID facility or a “normal” hospital?

Coen November 25, 2020 8:12 AM

@Peter A.

Fine, but who’s going to be charged for those dead because they did not get admitted in time because of COVID “procedures” taking hours on end?

The antimaskers?

JonKnowsNothing November 25, 2020 8:59 AM

@Peter A. @Coen

re: who’s going to be charged for those dead because they did not get admitted in time

I’ve seen some images of ambulance backups for hospital care in the UK Pre-COVID-19. They use the ambulances as mobile waiting rooms.

iirc(badly) The UK National Health Service has been attacked as deficient from a neoliberal view that there isn’t enough profit and too many expenses. So the folks running the show there have cut way back on office hours, staffing, services and clinics.

The UK (as elsewhere) has a shortage of Health Care Workers (MDS+All) and just enacted a new higher fee and salary level for application for such immigration visa. They walked back some on the fee.

They have that “hostile environment” going, tossing out their own citizens. A MSM story about an MD who is very ill with COVID-19 complications and the family visa is about to expire. As the guy is in hospital he cannot just waltz over to the appropriate interviews and as he is hospital he isn’t getting much of a salary, so in spite of a few “soks”, the guy and his family are not likely to navigate the hostile waters in the UK for long.

It’s not any better in the USA for the average person.

COVID-19 isn’t the problem.

The USA runs a “Fee for Service” system. Services are gated by facility and staffing levels. The Surge hospitals (aka Plague Houses) are a new feature of the COVID-19 landscape about where to stash the still breathing for the short term until they stop breathing.

The UK is dismantling their NHS, the USA needs to create one.

Some countries have a waiting list for treatment, the USA has a paying list for treatment.

That internet begging sites exist, where people plead for medical care, says a lot about who we are and who we aren’t.

dvv November 25, 2020 6:04 PM

I don’t understand what the fuss is all about. It’s obviously a Russian attack, and the Russians are to blame for it all.

David November 26, 2020 5:09 PM

During a bank robbery a client is killed. Turns out that the bank had no security guards and didn’t provide other measures to protect against this likely threat. Yes – The bank will have some explanations to do.

vas pup November 26, 2020 5:34 PM

Neuroscientists find that isolation provokes brain activity similar to that seen during hunger cravings:


“Since the coronavirus pandemic began in the spring, many people have only seen their close friends and loved ones during video calls, if at all. A new study from MIT finds that the longings we feel during this kind of social isolation share a neural basis with the food cravings we feel when hungry.

“People who are forced to be isolated crave social interactions similarly to the way a hungry person craves food. Our finding fits the intuitive idea that ==>positive social interactions are a basic human need, and acute loneliness is an aversive state that motivates people to repair what is lacking, similar to hunger,” says Rebecca Saxe, the John W. Jarve Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, a member of MIT’s McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and the senior author of the study.

To create that isolation environment, the researchers enlisted healthy volunteers, who were mainly college students, and confined them to a windowless room on MIT’s campus for 10 hours. They were not allowed to use their phones, but the room did have a computer that they could use to contact the researchers if necessary.

“There were a whole bunch of interventions we used to make sure that it would really feel strange and different and isolated,” Saxe says. “They had to let us know when they were going to the bathroom so we could make sure it was empty. We delivered food to the door and then texted them when it was there so they could go get it. They really were not allowed to see people.”

After the 10-hour isolation ended, each participant was scanned in an MRI machine.
This posed additional challenges, as the researchers wanted to avoid any social contact during the scanning. Before the isolation period began, each subject was trained on how to get into the machine, so that they could do it by themselves, without any help from the researcher.

“Normally, getting somebody into an MRI machine is actually a really social process. We engage in all kinds of social interactions to make sure people understand what we’re asking them, that they feel safe, that they know we’re there,” Saxe says. “In this case, the subjects had to do it all by themselves, while the researcher, who was gowned and masked, just stood silently by and watched.”
=>The researchers also found that people’s responses to isolation varied depending on their normal levels of loneliness. People who reported feeling chronically isolated months before the study was done showed weaker cravings for social interaction after the 10-hour isolation period than people who reported a richer social life.”

vas pup November 26, 2020 5:40 PM

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have developed a new sensor to measure weak magnetic signals in the brain:

“Researchers have designed a new Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM) sensor for magnetoencephalography (MEG).
=>The sensor is smaller and more robust in detecting magnetic brain signals and distinguishing them from background noise than existing sensors. Benchmarking tests showed
=>good performance in environmental conditions where other sensors do not work, and it is able to detect brain signals against background magnetic noise, raising the possibility of MEG testing =>outside a specialized unit.

Magnetic signals in the brain are measured by magnetoencephalography (MEG). They are =>easier to localize than the electrical signals measured by EEG, so they are likely to have greater utility for earlier and more accurate diagnostic techniques.

Physicist Dr Anna Kowalczyk led a team of scientists from the Quantum Gases group at the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Neuronal Oscillation group at the School of Psychology who designed a new Optically Pumped Magnetometer (OPM) sensor. These sensors, which are used in MEG laboratories, use polarized light to detect changes in the orientation of the spin of atoms when they are exposed to a magnetic field.

Dr Anna Kowalczyk commented: “Existing MEG sensors need to be at a constant, cool temperature and this requires a bulky helium-cooling system, which means they have to be arranged in a rigid helmet that will not fit every head size and shape. They also require a zero-magnetic field environment to pick up the brain signals. The testing demonstrated that our stand-alone sensor does not require these conditions. Its performance surpasses existing sensors, and it can discriminate between background magnetic fields and brain activity.”

The researchers expect these more robust sensors will extend the use of MEG for diagnosis and treatment, and they are working with other institutes at the University to determine which therapeutic areas will benefit most from this new approach.”

Drew Raybo November 26, 2020 6:10 PM

@Miguel Farah: Firstly and foremost, I do not think IT should be held criminally responsibile for the specific outcome; that rests squarely on the perpetrators.

That does not, however, necessarily absolve IT of any fault in the incident, and your assumptions as to how the hospital mismanaged the situation are entirely speculative. If the IT staff raised a concern about security (or, at the very least, about the risks of ransomware, once such attacks started happening) and were rebuffed, then the responsibility lies elsewhwere, but if they said nothing (or, worse, were asked and said they had the situation under control and there was little to worry about), then they were unprofessional and irresponsible.

Ransomware attacks have been going on for long enough that every IT organization should have raised this issue with whoever it reports to, proposing that the risk be examined as an urgent issue.

Anders November 28, 2020 5:15 PM


Väga kena 🙂

Tervitused vastu!

Mis õlu seal sees on?

Siin avati jõuluturg.


Tõnis November 28, 2020 10:38 PM

@Anders, Tere õhtust (hommikut Tallinas)! 🙂 Õlu on kohapärane (kutsutud “Whalers”) siit kus on minu kodu (Rhode Island). Ilusad pildid! Oletan, et olid ise ka seal turul…

Anders December 1, 2020 3:00 PM


Jah, jalutasin ka ise sealt läbi. Ilus on, aga
inimesi on vähe. Koroonaviirus on mõjutanud turismi
ja ka tööturgu, palju on koondamisi.

Otsin ka ise tööd hetkel. Infoturve, IT, kirjutamine.
Ehk tead midagi?

EvilKiru December 7, 2020 9:42 PM

@vas pup • November 26, 2020 5:34 PM

“Neuroscientists find that isolation provokes brain activity similar to that seen during hunger cravings:”

No wonder I’m constantly snacking! (And no, my snacking hasn’t increased since I went into COVID-19 isolation near the end of March – Lucky me, I’m in 3 high-risk groups.)

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Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.