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HSE Ransomware Attack halts Ireland hospitals

Cyberattack

Paul Reid, HSE’s director-general stated that the health service’s IT system was recently hit by a Ransomware attack and the HSE is currently working together with the Defence Forces as well as third-party experts in order to respond to the attack.

According to Reid, the attack was discovered last night and its target is the information-sharing systems of the HSE network.

According to the statement, the attack is categorized as significant but no hospital equipment has been affected.

It is currently believed that the attack is human-operated and the attackers are likely performing in order to get a ransom payment, although no ransom demands have been made yet.

As a precautionary measure, the HSE has temporarily shut down its IT systems until the problem is resolved.

According to Reid’s statement, there is currently a lot that is not known about the attack, including how it has occurred and what its end-goal is.

Reid clarifies that the Covid-19 vaccination programme hasn’t been affected by the attack on HSE’s IT systems.

The director-general advised the public to refrain from making health appointments today unless people get specifically contacted by health institutions.

Because of the cyberattack, the National Maternity Hospital also has its services disrupted but appointments to the hospital are still being accepted as normal.

Another hospital affected by the hacker attack is the Cork University Hospital. According to a statement made by it, its services will be severely limited and disrupted as a result of the attack

The statement says that existing GP blood tests cannot be processed at the moment with the exception of emergency blood tests. 

Additionally, radiotherapy appointments have been cancelled and people who are to attend the emergency department of the hospital have been warned to expect delays.

The Rotunda Maternity Hospital Cancels its Appointments due to the Ransomware Attack

As a result of the attack, the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, one of the largest hospitals in Ireland, has cancelled all of its outpatient visits for the day.

In a recent statement made by the hospital, it was said that all appointments for today (Friday, the 14th of May) will be cancelled. Exceptions will be made only for women who are 36 weeks or more into their pregnancy and for people with medical emergencies.

Gynaecological clinics will also have their appointments for today cancelled.

Professor Fergal Malone, the Rotunda hospital’s master, has stated that the hospital’s staff became aware of the recent attack last night. According to him, the IT systems of the hospital need to be shut down as a precautionary measure until the problem with the Ransomware attack is fixed.

The professor adds that the hospital’s patients are being taken care of as normal and that all of the hospital’s equipment is operational and hasn’t been affected by the attack.

However, the hospital is currently unable to access its digital records, and it will have to temporarily use its paper-based record-keeping system. This, in turn, would lead to a significantly slower processing of information.

For the time being, it remains unclear for how long the hospital’s IT system will remain non-operational.

According to Prof Malone, the IT system that the HSE uses is very common and four other hospitals are using it, but it is currently unknown if their networks have also been shut down.

The professor adds that currently, the hospitals’ IT teams are primarily focusing on resolving the problem as quickly as possible rather than on trying to figure out what made the attack possible. According to his statement, the cause and origin of the attack will be left to the authorities to investigate.

Both HSE and the Rotunda hospitals have stated that they will provide updates on the situation as soon as there’s any sort of development.

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