HSE systems enter day two of cyber attack

Thoughts are that the sophisticated attack may have been carried out by an international group of hackers.

Efforts to assess and even begin to mitigate the extent of disruption caused by the ‘Ransomeaware’ cyber attack on the HSE, healthcare facilities and services is ongoing as the tech crisis facing the national health system enters a second day.

It is believed that it will take a number of days before the HSE’s systems, which were shut down early yesterday (Friday) morning, are restored.

Since then the HSE and National Cyber Security Centre officials, along with external IT contractors and gardaí, have been working together to try to figure out the full extent of the ransomware infection.

They are also trying to assess whether sensitive patient data may have been compromised by the attack.

The breach has been described as possibly the most significant cybercrime attack directed at the Irish state.

Thoughts are that the sophisticated attack may have been carried out by an international group of hackers.

The HSE and the Government have already stated firmly that no matter what the ransom demands are, nothing will be paid to the hackers.

The attack resulted in the near complete shutdown of the HSE's national and local network of computers.

Advice was given to other third party bodies connected to the system to also shutdown.

The disruption caused the widespread cancellation of many outpatient clinics, as well as causing issues for diagnostic testing, as well as in the delivery of certain treatments and administrative procedures.

Yesterday (Friday) management of Cavan General Hospital provided an update in terms of ongoing hospital operations following the cyber attack.

Suzanne O'Callaghan, acting general manager at the acute hospital facility, said the situation as it evolves will be “reviewed” over the weekend.

Its expected that a national conference call with senior health hospital executives will take place later today and also tomorrow.

Due to the national HSE IT incident, all outpatient radiology with the exception of urgent maternity cases were cancelled locally.

All other outpatient clinics though continued as normal.

"The Emergency Department is currently very busy and, due to IT processing issues, very long delays can be expected.

"All urgent and inpatient care continues as normal.

"We would request that all non urgent patients contact their GP in the first instance.

"The Minor Injuries Unit in Monaghan is functioning at present and the vaccine and test centres continue to operate normally.

"We will keep you updated with any changes,” said Ms O’Callaghan.

"For those trying to get through on phone lines, please be patient as they are very busy."

The acting manager dictated the statement to this newspaper by phone as all their IT systems, including email, have been shut down.

Vaccinations

The HSE meanwhile says it is still planning to administer between 250,000 and 270,000 Covid-19 vaccine doses next week.

The jabs will be delivered between GP's, vaccination centres, hospitals and other services, despite the ransomware cyber-attack on the HSE’s IT systems.

The HSE's online booking portal for vaccination appointments which was out of action for a period following the attack, but is now back up and running for people aged between 50 and 69 years old.

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