Ireland’s healthcare provider shut down all IT systems Friday to protect systems from “critical” ransomware attacks, crippling diagnostic services and forcing hospitals to cancel mass appointments.
The country’s COVID-19 vaccination program has not been interrupted. But the attack affects IT systems serving all other local and national health services, the Chief Executive of Health Services (HSE) said.
HSE is shutting down IT as a defense to safeguard as much data as possible and is assessing how attacks will affect other services, said Chief Executive Paul Reid.
Reid said the cyberattacks discovered in the early hours of Friday morning were “Human-operated ransomware attacks in which they will attempt to gain access and seek ransom.”
HSE did not receive a ransom claim. It is still in the early stages of understanding the threat, he added.
“It’s a very complex attack, not just a standard attack. But it affects all our national and local systems that will involve all of our core services, ”Reid told national broadcaster RTE.
“Thankfully the vaccination program continues, it’s a separate system.”
Reid said most of the attacks affected data stored on centralized servers, not hospital equipment.
Dublin’s National Maternity Hospital said there would be a significant disruption to all services on Friday. Another maternity hospital in the capital cancels all outpatient appointments on days other than those for women who are 36 weeks pregnant or need urgent care.
At Cork University Hospital, his staff, Seamus Oreelli, arrives at the city’s largest hospital, paralyzed the IT system with all computers turned off.
“Our primary concern is patient safety and potentially outstanding outcomes. The laboratory information required to administer current care is very distressing for patients,” he told RTE.
Ransomware attacks are often associated with computer viruses infected with malicious software, often downloaded by clicking seemingly innocuous links in e-mails or pop-ups on other websites. Must pay a ransom to restore computer functionality
This is different from other types of data breaches or hacks, which can steal large amounts of customer data or other information from companies or individuals.
Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principle.