Ransom-ware attack: Ireland’s HSE shuts down all IT systems

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Ransom-ware attack
Ransom-ware attack: Ireland’s HSE shuts down all IT systems

The Ireland ransom-ware attack comes less than a week after a similar incident at Colonial Pipeline, which took one of the largest fuel pipelines in the US offline

Following a “significant” ransom-ware attack which has disrupted COVID-19 testing and other patient services, Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) had to shut down all of its IT systems on Friday, the BBC reports. The country’s COVID-19 vaccination program does not appear to have been affected.

A government official tells news station RTE that an international cyber-criminal group is responsible for the ransom-ware attack. “This is not espionage. It was an international attack, but this is just a cyber-criminal gang looking for money”, says Ossian Smyth, Minister of State for Public Procurement and e-Government.

Micheal Martin, Martin, the country’s Taoiseach (prime minister), says Ireland will not be paying any ransom.

According to Financial Times, a ransom demand to be paid in bitcoin was received by the government. The ransom-ware attack appeared to affect data stored on the health system’s central servers, reports RTE, but it did not appear any patient data was compromised.

The country’s health and social care services on Friday were severely impacted by the ransom-ware attack, but emergency services continued to operate normally, according to Stephen Donnelly, the Health Minister. He reiterated that Ireland’s COVID vaccinations were continuing as planned.

The Ireland ransom-ware attack comes less than a week after a similar incident at Colonial Pipeline, which took one of the largest fuel pipelines in the US offline. The company reportedly paid a nearly $5 million ransom to the attackers in that instance, to get its systems back online.

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