Cyberattackers steal 1.5m citizens’ details, including PM’s — SINGAPORE

24 July, 2018, 01:30 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Singapore cyberattack,Lee Hsien Loong,Cyberattack

Singapore has been hit by a major cyber attack that saw a database containing the personal information of about 1.5 million people, more than a quarter of the population, stolen. Of these, 160,000 people, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and a few ministers, had their outpatient prescriptions stolen as well. SingHealth is the country's biggest group of healthcare institutions, with 11 hospitals and centres under its aegis. It's the intent of its use that determines the outcome or consequences he said. As per the Singapore government's statement, the hack was "deliberate, targeted and well-planned".

But SingHealth said "no phone numbers, financial information, or other patient medical records have been illegally accessed".

Tan Shong Ye, a partner at PwC, noted that the Singapore government "responded swiftly" to the incident, including convening a Committee of Inquiry (COI) to look into the cyberattack and find ways to better secure public sector IT systems. "As we all increasingly rely on technology, we become more vulnerable to those who would exploit it. Singapore's leadership understands this, takes the threat seriously and has a robust security strategy in place", he said.

Investigations show the cyber attacks started on June 27 until July 4, when database administrators from Singapore's Integrated Health Information System first detected unusual activity on SingHealth's IT database, the government said.

Medical information, like personal data, can also be easily magnetized on criminal forums, said Sanjay Aurora, Asia Pacific managing director of Darktrace.

Specifically, mandatory contribution to NEHR is now on hold until further notice.

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"CSA has ascertained that the cyberattackers accessed the SingHealth IT system through an initial breach on a particular front-end workstation", authorities say. However, the hackers did not manage to steal more data after July 4.

SingHealth has temporarily banned staff from accessing the internet on all 28,000 of its work computers, according to the Straits Times. Security measures, including the blocking of dubious connections and changing of passwords, were taken to thwart the hackers.

According to the statement, SingHealth lodged a police report on 12 Jul 2018 and police investigation is ongoing.

What data was stolen?

Authorities in Singapore brief journalists on Friday on the hacking of 1.5 million patient records at SingHealth. An SMS message will be sent to all patients over the next five days.

Earlier in the day, in a press conference, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong apologised to the affected patients, while Communications and Information Minister S Iswaran vowed to get to the bottom of the breach. They also have introduced additional controls, reset the user and systems accounts as well as installed more systems for monitoring objective. "However, we must not allow this incident, or any others like it, to derail our plans for a Smart Nation".

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