Ireland shuts down health IT system after ransomware attack

Ireland shuts down its healthcare IT system following ransomware attack, a week after hackers hit US fuel pipeline

  •  Ireland’s Health Service Executive has confirmed the systems closure today
  • The hacking comes a week after a US company had to pay out $5mill in ransom
  • Non-emergency patients have been  told to stay at home as heathcare will slow

Ireland’s health authority has had to shut down its computer systems today after being targeted by malicious hackers. 

The attack comes just one week after a fuel network in the US had to shut down its systems until a $5million ransom was paid.

Non-emergency outpatients have been urged to stay at home as healthcare is expected to slow down. 

The Rotunda maternity hospital in Dublin said that ‘due to a serious IT issue’, it was only admitting emergency cases and women who are at least 36 weeks pregnant. 

Hackers are holding Ireland’s healthcare IT systems to ransom, one week after a US company was targeted for $5 million

Ireland’s Health Service Executive said: ‘We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us to fully assess the situation with our own security partners.

‘We apologise for inconvenience caused to patients and to the public and will give further information as it becomes available,’ 

He went on to stress that Ireland’s coronavirus vaccination programme was unaffected and ‘going ahead as planned’. 

Officials in Ireland have reassured patients that their healthcare records are safe. 

Ransomware attacks use a type of malware that encrypts files on an infected computer, usually via an email attachment or download, and demands money to unlock them.

Hospital chief Fergal Malone said the attack had targeted computers storing patient records but that they are not in danger.

He added that life-saving equipment is operating fine and said: ‘there’s no problem for patient safety’, due to hospitals switching to backup paper records. 

This week, British Foreign Minister Dominic Raab called for a global effort to counter online threats as he slammed countries including Russia, China, Iran and North Korea over cyberattacks.

Authoritarian states ‘are the industrial-scale vandals of the 21st century’, he said in a speech.

‘They want to undermine the very foundations of our democracy,’ Raab added, as Britain prepares to host a G7 summit next month.

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