The publicly funded Irish Health Services Executive confirmed 14th May 2021 that it had fallen victim to a sophisticated cyber-attack on the organisation’s IT infrastructure. The attack has been described as the most significant cyber attack experienced ever in Ireland and is currently under investigation by The National Cyber Security Team and Interpol.
As a result of the cyber- attack the Health Services Executive has been forced to shut down it’s entire IT infrastructure system in an attempt to contain the breach of security. This has led to chaos in the delivery of healthcare services, the cancellation of hospital appointments and significantly impacting e COVID 19 testing and vaccine rollout procedures and is very much an evolving situation. It has yet to be clarified by the HSE if any personal information has been compromised, it has however, been confirmed that a ransom has been demanded by the “hackers” At this stage of the investigation, it is suggested that this is a Conti human operated Ransomware attack and that the Health Services Executive has been deliberately targeted.
Interestingly, this is the second significant global cyber crime attack in the past 7 days. In the USA, Colonial Pipeline Company, the largest pipeline system in the US had its IT system infiltrated by a cyber-attack, in early May 2021. The impact of this hacking incident resulted in huge disruption to the supply of oil and gas. Colonial Pipeline confirmed on Friday 14th May 2021 that a $5m ransom had been paid to the perpetrators.
The significance of two sophisticated global cyber-attacks demonstrates once again the financial value of personal information to the cybercriminal and how a successful cyber- attack can cripple critical infrastructure. The HSE and Irish Government have confirmed that there will be no ransom payment, how this drama unfolds and is resolved will be an interesting watch over the next few days.