Government ministers briefed on 'despicable' HSE cyber attack situation

Government ministers briefed on 'despicable' HSE cyber attack situation

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Government said its main concern is to get all medical services affected by the hack back on track.

Government ministers met with officials from the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) as well as the Health Service Executive (HSE) this afternoon to discuss the ongoing impact of Friday's ransomware cyber-attack on the health system.

The leaders of the coalition parties met with representatives, along with Justice Minister Heather Humphreys, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Communications and eGovernment Minister Ossian Smyth to review the ongoing efforts to recover the HSE's IT systems and to ensure that an attack like this cannot happen again.

In a statement issued this afternoon, the Government said the attacks "are despicable crimes" and fear that patient data "will be abused". 

They said their main concern is to get all medical services affected by the hack back on track.

"No effort is being spared to achieve this."

The response to the ransomware attack on the HSE is being led by the NCSC as well as a number of private-sector cybersecurity experts.

"There are currently hundreds of people deployed to tackle this attack in accordance with the pre-determined plan for such cyber-attacks.

"The necessary, detailed technical work is continuing as a priority to secure and restore the HSE’s IT infrastructure."

Meanwhile, the HSE said that work continued today in assessing the impact of the attack and are beginning to restore HSE IT systems.

It said there are serious concerns about the implications for patient care, arising from the very limited access to diagnostics, lab services and historical patient records.

The HSE said its priority is keeping its patients safe and maintaining essential care and support services.

These will be displayed on the HSE website and updated on a regular basis.

The HSE’s Chief Clinical Officer, Dr Colm Henry, says it is going to be extremely slow to get everything back up and running as normal.

"It's going to be a painstaking, slow process," he said.

"Reopening them system by system machine by machine platform by platform to assess whether or not they've been invaded and encrypted or information has been taken away.

"We have to do that in a very safe way to protect the information there and to ensure then, that as we open them, that the systems aren't still corrupted aren't still are still damaged in some ways."

The Government says the attack was carried out by an "international cyber-crime gang" whose main goal was "extorting money."

"Those who carried it out have no concern for the severe impact on patients needing care or for the privacy of those whose private information has been stolen."

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