Ireland’s Health Service Executive hit by ransomware attack

Pierluigi Paganini May 14, 2021

Ireland’s Health Service Executive service shut down its IT systems after they were hit with a “significant ransomware attack.”

Another major ransomware attack made the headlines, this time the victim is Ireland’s Health Service Executive that was forced to shut down its IT systems on Friday.

After being targeted with a significant ransomware attack the Health Service Executive opted to shut down its infrastructure as a precaution to avoid the threat from spreading. The good news is that the ongoing coronavirus vaccination campaign was not affected.

“There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems. 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.” reads a statement published by the HSE.” Vaccination appointments are going ahead as normal.”

The authorities launched an investigation into the incident that began at around 4.30am on Friday, the government experts are working to determine the extent of the security breach.

“We’ve taken a precautionary measure to shut down a lot of our major systems to protect them,” chief executive Paul Reid told broadcaster RTE. “We are at the very early stages of fully understanding the threats, the impact and trying to contain it.”

Experts fear that as a result of the ransomware attack there should be cancellations and disruption to services at multiple hospitals in the country.

According to the Associated Press, Dublin’s Rotunda maternity hospital said it was canceling most routine appointments due to the IT issues, calling the situation a “critical emergency.” The attack was classified as fairly sophisticated” by professionals involved in the investigation into the incident. 

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly declared that the situation was having “a severe impact” on national healthcare services.

“We are working to ensure that the systems and the information is protected. Covid-19 testing and vaccinations are continuing as planned today,” he said.

At the time of this writing the Ireland’s Health Service Executive has yet to receive a ransom demand.

The attack highlighted the importance to protect critical infrastructure from cyber attacks carried out by cybercriminals and nation-state actors.

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Pierluigi Paganini

(SecurityAffairs – hacking, Ireland Health Service Executive)

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