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Irish health service’s IT systems shut down after ransomware attack

Published: (Updated: ) in European News by .

Medical appointments are disrupted by the attack, but the vaccine rollout is unaffected.

DUBLIN – Ireland’s hospitals were forced to shut down IT systems and cancel many appointments Friday after an overnight ransomware attack against the central servers of the Health Service Executive. Vaccine appointments to fight the pandemic were not disrupted.

HSE chief executive Paul Reid said investigators from the state’s Computer Security Incident Response Team were working with police and military specialists to aid the state agency’s own efforts to protect patient data and isolate the threat.

“It’s a very sophisticated attack,” Reid told RTÉ radio.

Hospital staff switched Friday morning to using whatever paper records existed for patients and canceled at least some outpatient services until they could get the all-clear to go back online. 

At the nation’s biggest maternity hospital, the Rotunda in central Dublin, most appointments were canceled except for patients over 36 weeks’ pregnant.

Reid said the attackers have not targeted separate servers running Ireland’s COVID-19 vaccination program, so thousands of inoculation appointments were proceeding Friday without cancellations. 

He described it as “a human-operated ransomware attack where they would seek access to data and obviously seek a ransom for it.” 

He said the HSE’s own cybersecurity consultants had confirmed it as a ransomware attack, but the state agency — responsible for managing medical services across this nation of nearly 5 million people — has yet to receive any specific financial demands.

“It is impacting all of our national and indeed local systems involved in all of our core services. We did become aware of it during the night and we’ve been acting on it straightaway. The immediate priority is to contain this,” Reid said.

READ:  France extends coronavirus restrictions nationwide, closes schools

As is the case globally, ransomware attacks are on the rise in Ireland, a European base for hundreds of U.S. multinationals and tech firms’ data centers.

Last week, one of Ireland’s top engineering firms was hit with ransomware demands seeking at least $1 million. But Jones Engineering, which employs 1,500 people, didn’t pay and hired cybersecurity experts to reclaim and protect their data.

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Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/ireland-health-services-it-systems-shut-down-after-ransomware-attack/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication

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