How to hack your GP's computer system

It’s easy – you just send them a letter on what appears to be Department of Health notepaper telling them to go to a URL, download a program, load it on their practice system, and run it. The program does something with the database, extracts some information and sends it back to whoever wrote it.

I have written to one of the medical magazines explaining why this is not a good way to do things. Doctors would never dream of injecting some random potion they received through the post into their patients – they’d insist on peer review, licensing, and a trustworthy supply chain. So who reviewed the specification of this software? Who evaluated the implementation? Who accepts liability if it corrupts the patient database, leading to a fatal accident?

Were it not for the Computer Misuse Act, I would email 100 practices at random with a version of the above letter, telling them to run my software – which would simply report back who ran it. From talking to a handful of doctors I reckon most of them would fall for it.

No doubt the bad guys will start doing this sort of thing. Eventually doctors, lawyers and everyone else will learn the simple lesson ‘don’t install software’. Until then, this will be the smart way to help yourself to the juicy, meaty bits of a target organisation’s data. So what will we call it? Philleting?

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