Credit: D Storan /

Patient data from HSE leaked to dark web – Donnelly calls suing the State “distasteful”

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that it is “distasteful” that law firms are “licking their lips” at the idea of suing the State after stolen patient records have begun to be found leaked onto the dark web.

Speaking to Newstalk breakfast, Donnelly described the ransomware attack as “extensive” and “despicable”, adding that it will have “real-world” consequences for patients.

“When we are in the middle of trying to get urgent healthcare services back up and running for sick patients, I certainly find it very distasteful that any law firm would be putting stuff up on their websites to that end,” he said.

The Financial Times say they have seen files and screenshots proving that medical and sensitive personal information belonging to HSE patients have been released online, indicating a significant data leak at the hands of the hackers.

Both Donnelly and Communications Minister Eamon Ryan indicated that a leak like this was within the realms of possibility, with Ryan calling the leak “credible”.

“On the face of it, as has been reported, data from the HSE does appear to have been displayed on the dark net,” Donnelly told Newstalk.

“The details of that are not something that would be confirmed because it’s an ongoing Garda investigation.”

Yesterday, according to Labour Leader Alan Kelly, a medical organisation outside of Ireland contacted a patient offering them services based on their private medical history, appearing to align with the cyber attack. The government has said that anyone who is contacted in this way about their leaked info should get in contact with Gardaí.

According to Donnelly, the branches of the health service most significantly affected by the hack are the patient administration system, radiation oncology, radiology & diagnostics, chemotherapy, and maternity and infant care, among others. Delays in the healthcare system are expected to last weeks, with around 2,000 HSE systems having to be repaired by IT workers, and as many as 85,000 computers being painstakingly wiped and set up again from scratch one by one.

The government has reiterated their intention not to pay the ransom, which is in the tens of millions.

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