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Computer says no Department of Health hit with cyber attack after HSE ransomware hacking

The National Cyber Security Centre, Gardaí and the Defence Forces are investigating the ransomware attack on the Department of Health.


The Department of Health has been subjected to a separate cyber attack similar to the ransomware attack on the Health Service Executive.

It’s understood that the National Cyber Security Centre, along with the gardaí and the Defence Forces, are investigating the attacks.

The Department has said it has shut down its systems and it is working to safely restore its data.

The National Cyber Security Centre, Gardaí and the Defence Forces are investigating the ransomware attack on the Department of Health.

A digital ransom note has been left on the Department’s IT systems to be found by investigators, RTÉ News have reported.

It is suspected that the Conti ransomware group behind the HSE attack are also responsible for the infiltration of the Department of Health’s IT systems.

It is not yet clear to what degree and what data has been encrypted by the hackers in either the HSE hack or the latest attack on the Department of Health.

Government Chief Whip Jack Chambers said that all steps will have to be taken across the State sector to provide protection against cyber attack.

Chambers was reacting to the news that the Department of Health has now fallen victim to a ransomware attack after the penetration of HSE systems.

“Obviously all steps will have to be taken to mitigate any risks for the Department of Health, or any other Department where risk has been identified,” he said on The Week in Politics on RTE 1 television.

Independent TD Cathal Berry of Kildare South, the former head of the Army Ranger Wing (ARW), warned that if this had been a military-grade or State attack, “we'd be looking at much more serious consequences.”

He called for a dedicated Defence Forces unit dedicated to cyber.

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“We need to up our game from a cyber defence perspective.

“This is an issue all across the world. Australia and New Zealand have been hit over the last few months as well, but there’s a need to get the Defence Forces more involved — and there’s a staff-retention issue there.

“We need to have that expertise available to the State.”
Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly said under no circumstances should a ransom be paid to the hackers.

But she added: “This is totally unfortunate because it's come in the same week as we see an announcement that there are almost 900,000 people awaiting appointments.

“What this does is push further back those appointments, and we know that thousands of people will have their appointments cancelled. The effect is absolutely huge.”

The State needs to know how it happened, “but we also need to hear it from Government, the HSE and Department of Health how they're going to ensure that this does not happen again.”

“We need a fully-resourced plan to ensure it not only that the HSE is modernised and digitised, but that it is safe, and it can be protected from cybersecurity attacks such as this, because clearly we are vulnerable in this area,” she said.

“We wouldn't be seeing this disruption if there wasn't a vulnerability within the system. But it's going to require resources and a plan to ensure that this will not happen again.”

More to follow...

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