Department of Health becomes victim of ransomware attack

Department of Health becomes victim of ransomware attack

The department said it suspended some of its IT systems as a “precaution” following the attack late last week. 

The Department of Health has been the victim of a cyber attack similar to the one that has affected the country’s health service.

The department said it suspended some of its IT systems as a “precaution” following the attack late last week and that it is working closely with all relevant authorities, including the National Cyber Security Centre, An Garda Siochana and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

It comes as thousands of patients face cancelled appointments and delays to health services in the coming days due to a cyberattack on the HSE’s system.

A ransomware attack closed down the health service’s IT services on Friday.

The HSE is now trying to rebuild its IT systems but it is expected to be some time before the full services are restored.

In a statement on Sunday, the Department of Health said: “The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) became aware on Thursday of an attempted cyber attack on the Department of Health.

“The Department of Health has implemented its response plan including the suspension of some functions of its IT system as a precautionary measure.

“This attempted attack remains under investigation, however there are indications that this was a ransomware attack similar to that which has affected the HSE.”

The NCSC is already providing support to the HSE trying to identify the systems affected by its cyber attack and to bring all systems back online.

“As the investigations into both incidents are ongoing, it is not possible to make further comment on the nature of these attacks at this time,” the department added.

Communications Minister Eamon Ryan and Junior Minister Ossian Smyth were briefed by the NCSC on Sunday morning.

The department said Mr Ryan has been in contact with Taoiseach Micheal Martin, Tanaiste Leo Varadkar, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Social Protection Minister Heather Humphreys, throughout the weekend as well as HSE chief executive Paul Reid. 

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