Irish Health Service Struck by Cyberattack

Ireland’s Health Service Executive (HSE) has been targeted in a ransomware attack which forced it to temporarily shut down its IT systems.

”There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems. We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us fully assess the situation with our own security partners,” announced HSE on Twitter.

The main attack reportedly began at about 4.30 am local time on Friday and was detected immediately which prompted the HSE IT team to shut down their system. 

There has been no ransom demand yet but the HSE said it is already working with authorities and experts to handle the attack.

As a result of the shutdown, the HSE expected cancellations and disruption to some services at a number of hospitals but said that COVID-19 appointments and vaccinations would still continue. 

The HSE added that their national ambulance service will function normally despite the shutdown. 

“Our first priority is to contain the issue. This is a major incident  for us. As the morning progressed we’ll gain greater clarity on the  impact of this, ” said HSE head Paul Reid. 

Anne O’Connor, HSE chief operations officer. said the attack was a “zero day threat” and that they had no experience in handling one. 

O’Connor added that if the attack is not remedied by Monday, more appointments would have to be canceled.

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