Significant ransomware attack causes Irish healthcare IT shutdown

Ireland’s healthcare service has temporarily been forced to shut down its computer systems as a precaution following a significant ransomware attack.

The Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) sent out a message via Twitter on Friday saying the organisation was taking the precaution in order to protect the IT systems from the attack and to allow the HSE to fully assess the situation with security partners.

The HSE plans to publish more information on the cyberattack as it becomes available and ensured the public there will be no interruption to vaccinations and vaccination registration services despite the shutdown.

According to the HSE, the ransomware attack has impacted IT systems at a local and national level. The Rotunda Hospital in Dublin, for example, had to cancel loads of outpatient appointments due to the attack, including maternity appointments.

The hospital clarified that while this was the case, exceptions would be made for patients who were 36 weeks pregnant or later and those faced with an emergency.

This attack continues a worrying and developing trend for many companies and countries around the world. Earlier this week, insurance giant AXA suffered a cyberattack that saw it lose 3 terabytes of sensitive data from its Asian operations in Thailand, Malaysia and Hong Kong.

The Avaddon ransomware group claimed on their leak site they had stolen the customer data, which included medical reports, copies of ID cards, claim forms, payment records, contracts, bank account statements and more from branches in Thailand, Hong Kong and Malaysia.

In the US last week, operations were halted at the Colonial Pipeline due to a cyberattack by ransomware variant DarkSide, who later demanded $5m for the pipeline to continue operations.

The attack led to Colonial taking certain systems offline to contain the threat. The pipeline transports 100 million gallons of fuel daily to customers from Texas to New York and transports 45% of all fuel consumed on the east coast. It is the largest pipeline for moving gas and diesel products in the US at 2.7 million miles.

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