Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has paused several of its services after spotting a ransomware attack against its IT systems. The incident was identified in the early stages and took systems offline to contain its spread further. Affected services raised from this include the nationwide diagnostic centers, maternity hospitals, and others. At the same time, COVID vaccination is going as usual.
Ransomware Attack on Ireland Health Sector
In the early hours of Friday, Ireland’s National Health Service Executive disclosed a ransomware attack against its IT infrastructure, where the perpetrators tried to intrude and lock the systems. This was identified in the nascent stage and soon contained by pulling all the online services down.
They said this precautionary step was taken to “protect them from this attack and to allow us (HSE) fully assess the situation with our own security partners.” Now, the HSE is investigating the incident with Garda, the defense forces, and third-party security professionals.
Paul Ried, the head of Ireland’s HSE, called this incident “significant” and was not a “standard attack.” Further, he said this to be “an internationally operated criminal operation.” They haven’t found any ransom note yet, since they have stopped the incident in the early stages.
This containment procedure has led to the shutdown of several connected healthcare services like Maternity care, where the Rotunda Maternity Hospital in Dublin has canceled all the appointments on Friday and says only exceptions are patients like pregnant (36 weeks or later) or emergencies.
Further, Tusla, the child and family agency, has suspended services since its internal systems, email, and child protection referral portal are down. Also, the Pacs for radiological imaging have been impacted. This led to lab results being delayed for critical cancer patients. But, other important services like COVID-19 vaccinations and the National Ambulance Service are running as usual.