Health data of 1.5 million Singaporeans, PM hacked

Lynette PayneJul 25, 2018

"Information on the outpatient dispensed medicines of about 160,000 of these patients was also exfiltrated", it added.

A statement from the country's Ministry of Health on Friday described the attack as "deliberate, targeted, and well planned".

The personal data taken from the 1.5 million patients included their names, NRIC numbers, address, gender, race and date of birth, according to the release which also said that the hackers did not amend or delete the records.

The breach exposed data on about 1.5 million patients who visited organizations that are part of SingHealth, which is the island nation's largest healthcare group, health authorities say.

Data exfiltration occurred between June 27 and July 4, the newspaper reported.

The government had previously warned of cyber-attacks, saying it has been the target of worldwide hackers but most attacks were foiled.

"Only when we admit that we cannot detect and stop threats, and instead start focusing on minimising harm, can we ever hope to disrupt hackers", he said. A former judge will head an inquiry looking into the incident.

Commenting on the measures that government has taken so far, Ryan Lim, founder of QED Consulting said that this will not have a major effect on the overall SmartNation agenda on the strategic level.

Initial investigations showed that one SingHealth front-end workstation was infected with malware through which the hackers gained access to the data base.

No further data has been stolen since 4 July, it said, adding that there was no disruption of healthcare services during the period of the cyberattack and patient care has not been compromised.

A police investigation is continuing.

SingHealth has temporarily banned staff from accessing the internet on all 28,000 of its work computers, according to the Straits Times. If we discover a breach, we must promptly put it right, improve our systems, and inform the people affected.

During the press conference on Friday, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong called this attack "unprecedented" and apologised to those affected patients.

Singapore has been an active target of cyber attacks and the government recognizes the threat and has warned citizens about these attacks in the past as well. It was confirmed to be a cyberattack six days later. And with the Singapore government itself experiencing breaches over the past few years, the city-state has begun unveiling a series of initiatives to boost cybersecurity, including creating new institutions, training cybersecurity personnel, and collaborating more with the private sector and other regional actors as well. We can not go back to paper records and files. "However, we must not allow this incident, or any others like it, to derail our plans for a Smart Nation".

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