Ireland’s health authority said yesterday it had shut down its computer systems after experiencing a “significant ransomware attack”, a week after the largest US fuel pipeline network was also targeted.
The Irish attack was blamed on international criminals and was said to be targeting healthcare records.
Officials said patient safety was not at risk however the Health Services Executive (HSE) said it is currently unable to make referrals for coronavirus testing.
Government minister Ossian Smyth told RTE it is “possibly the most significant cybercrime attack on the Irish State”, calling it an “international attack” but “not espionage”.
“These are cyber criminal gangs, looking for money,” he told Ireland’s state broadcaster.
The HSE said it shut down all its IT systems as a precaution but said the country’s coronavirus vaccination programme was unaffected, as were emergency service calls.But the referral system used to book Covid-19 tests was down.
Health minister Stephen Donnelly said the attack was having a “severe impact” but “individual services and hospital groups are impacted in different ways”. On Twitter he claimed that “Covid-19 testing and vaccinations are continuing as planned”. Liz Canavan, a top official in prime minister Micheal Martin’s office, said the outage was also affecting child protection services, which are hosted on HSE servers.
She urged people needed urgent treatment to attend hospital as normal but HSE chief operations officer Anne O’Connor warned of disruption if the outage continued.
“If this continues to Monday we will be in a very serious situation, and we will be cancelling many services,” she said.
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