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Keyboard criminals Fears HSE hackers will soon begin to leak stolen data online

Officials believe the hackers will now “ramp up” their efforts and are bracing for the stolen data to be leaked online in batches in the coming days.

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Sources say there appears to be a stand-off between the hackers and the Government. Photo: Stock image

Sources say there appears to be a stand-off between the hackers and the Government. Photo: Stock image

Sources say there appears to be a stand-off between the hackers and the Government. Photo: Stock image

There are serious concerns the HSE hackers will begin drip-feeding stolen data as they intensify their extortion campaign.

The Irish Independent has learned that there has been no direct contact from the gang since they breached the health service last week.

The Government has repeatedly affirmed that they will not be paying any ransom and have also refused to engage with the online criminals.

This, a number of sources say, has effectively led to a stand-off between the Government and those involved in the ransomware attack.

Officials believe the hackers will now “ramp up” their efforts and are bracing for the stolen data to be leaked online in batches in the coming days.

Gardaí suspect a Russian-based cyber gang known as Wizard Spider is responsible for the attack.

Security sources also suspect that components of this gang were involved in a recent unsuccessful cyber attack on the Department of Social Protection.

Authorities are resisting contacting the cyber terrorist while work in under way to repair the damage they caused to the HSE’s data network.

“If you engage with them, then you are showing your hand and burning time that could be used to get the health service up and running,” the source said.

The criminals, who are financially motivated and have carried out more than 100 attacks worldwide, have in the past used similar methods to try to increase the pressure on their targets.

The hackers also use specific sites on dark nets to dump stolen data, and these are being monitored by specialist gardaí.

However, detectives have not yet come across any material which would have originated from the HSE hack.

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Cyber experts are also still in the process of establishing whether heavily redacted information circulating online came from the health service.

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said gardaí and the Department of Justice would be looking very closely at these issues.

He said that it would not be unusual for gangs to publish fake information as part of their efforts.

The Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau along with the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) are continuing to liaise with their international colleagues and share intelligence about the attack.

They do not suspect any internal involvement and their criminal investigation is currently focusing solely on external factors.

Wizard Spider are also under investigation from several different security agencies including the FBI over a spate of cyber attacks on healthcare facilities last year.

The US Embassy in Dublin has also expressed its concern about a recent spate of online crimes from both state-sponsored and criminal gangs.

A spokesman said: “While we are unable to comment on specific recent events, the United States is committed to supporting cyber-security with our partners.

Ireland is home to 900 US companies including many leading tech companies.

“We continue to be concerned about the recent spate of sophisticated cyber attacks from state-sponsored and transnational criminal organisations, which demonstrate our shared vulnerability to such malign actions and the risks they pose to the global economy.

“We believe that transnational nature of cyber-security requires international collaboration between governments and robust public-private co-operation between governments, businesses, and civil society,” the spokesman added.

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