Virus downs Australian ambulance dispatch service

The dispatch system of the Ambulance Service of New South Wales – the Australian most populous state – has been downed on Saturday by an unspecified virus.

The infection spread quickly, and the staff was forced to shut down the whole system for over 24 hours, reports TechWorld. The unavailability of the system forced the staff to co-ordinate the dispatch of ambulances by “old fashioned” means such as handwritten notes and the telephone.

An investigation was, of course, mounted, but the source of the virus is still unknown. Sydney’s system is back online, as are those co-ordinating the service in the north and west of the state. The last one (in the south) will be restored later today.

Fortunately, the lack of a computerized system didn’t prevent the paramedics of doing their work, and all calls for help were answered. But this is another example of how malware can disrupt the functioning of a nation’s or state’s critical systems, and a warning that the security of computer systems of public importance must be a top priority in this day and age.

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