Irish Health Service Operator Still Struggling With Ransomware Attack

Irish Health Service

JBS hit by ransomware attack. Image: Wikimedia

The Irish Health Service Executive remains “very compromised” following a cyber-attack on its IT systems, but some “site specific” progress is being made, said Chief Operations Officer Anne O’Connor.

Outpatient services are operating at around 40 percent capacity because of the incident, she said.

The HSE was forced to shut down all of its IT systems earlier this month following the “significant” ransomware attack, which focused on accessing data stored on central servers.

Hospitals and clinics across the country are struggling as a result although chemotherapy services have resumed.

Ireland’s health service operator was forced to shut down its entire IT system on May 14 in order to protect it from a “significant” ransomware attack that was crippling diagnostic services and forcing hospitals to cancel many appointments.

On realising the attack, HSE shut down the IT systems as a precaution to protect as much information as possible, Chief Executive Paul Reid said.

Reid said the cyberattack, discovered in the early hours of Friday morning, was a “human-operated ransomware attack where they would seek to get access to data and seek a ransom for it.”

“It’s a very sophisticated attack, not just the standard attack. It is impacting all of our national and local systems that would be involved in all of our core services. The vaccination programme continues thankfully, it’s a separate system.” Reid told national broadcaster RTE.

Ransomware attacks typically involve the infection of computers with malicious software, often downloaded by clicking on seemingly innocuous links in emails or other website pop-ups. Users are left locked out of their systems, with the demand of a ransom to be paid to restore computer functions.

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Deirdre Tynan

Deirdre Tynan is an award-winning journalist who enjoys bringing the best in news reporting to Spain’s largest English-language newspaper, Euro Weekly News. She has previously worked at The Mirror, Ireland on Sunday and for news agencies, media outlets and international organisations in America, Europe and Asia. A huge fan of British politics and newspapers, Deirdre is equally fascinated by the political scene in Madrid and Sevilla. She moved to Spain in 2018 and is based in Jaen.