Ireland Shuts Down Health IT System After Ransomware Attack

The scourge of ransomware continues unabated, after the IT network of Ireland’s health service suffered a “significant ransomware attack.”

Indeed, so bad was the attack that the Republic’s Health Service Executive (HSE) said it has shut down its IT network as a ‘precaution’.

The Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin also tweeted that it has been forced to cancel many routine appointments because of the attack.

Significant attack

“There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems,” tweeted Ireland’s HSE.

“We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us fully assess the situation with our own security partners.”

“We apologise for inconvenience caused to patients and to the public and will give further information as it becomes available,” it added.

“Vaccinations not effected are going ahead as planned,” it said.

“The National Ambulance Service @AmbulanceNAS are operating as per normal with no impact on emergency ambulance call handling and dispatch nationally,” it concluded.

Hospital attacks

The fact that ransomware such as these have continued to target hospitals and health facilities during the Coronavirus pandemic, demonstrates the ruthless intentions of the criminal gangs carrying out these cyberattacks.

In September last year a female patient died as a result of a cyberattack at a German hospital.

That ransomware attack triggered a failure of IT systems at Duesseldorf University Clinic, and a woman who needed urgent admission died after she had to be transferred to another city for treatment.

Despite that, ransomware attacks against hospitals have been ongoing for a while now.

The global WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017 disrupted operations at around 34 NHS trusts in the UK, preventing staff from accessing patient data and carrying out critical services.

In the US alone, 764 healthcare providers were hit by ransomware in 2019, according to data compiled by Emsisoft.

Indeed in October 2019, three hospitals in the US state of Alabama were forced to temporarily close their doors to the admission of new patients because of a ransomware attack.

Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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