HSE braces for ‘data dump’ as ransom deadline passes

The HSE has warned that information, including personal patient records, may appear on the internet in the near future now that the hackers’ deadline has passed with the ransom unpaid.

The group, known as ‘Wizard Spider’ and believed to be from eastern Europe, gave the State until Monday, May 24th to pay $20 million dollars (€16 million euro) in ransom money in the form of Bitcoin. If the sum was not received, the group threatened to release the stolen patient info onto the internet.

However, the State insisted that they would not be paying the ransom, and the HSE are now bracing for a “data dump.”

“We will be watching today to see what happens,” said Anne O’Connor, HSE Chief Operations Officer during an interview with Newstalk.

“We know that people have had concerns over the past week and people have received calls, either with actual information about them, or people claiming to have information.

“We will be watching to see if information appears anywhere on the web, and that’s something that has been threatened. It may happen, and if it does, we will have to see what action we can take.”

According to Taoiseach Micheál Martin, the HSE managed to achieve an injunction from the High Court making it a criminal offence to “reveal any data that has been illegally obtained or has been stolen from the HSE system.” Additionally, the injunction requires that companies such as Google and Twitter must remove any sensitive info immediately if it is posted on their site.

Additionally, Martin admitted on RTÉ radio’s “Today With Claire Byrne” that the IT and cybersecurity for the HSE has had too little funding, and that bolstering these systems should have been done “years ago”.

“We can modernise our health service far more effectively, and it’s an aim of mine and the government to do that, and to use every available means at our disposal to modernise our health service from a digital perspective. And we’ve been too slow at that,” the Taoiseach said.

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