Irish Health Service Shuts Down IT System Amid Cyber Attack

Ireland’s health service has shut down its computer systems amid what it described as a “significant” cyberattack.

“There is a significant ransomware attack on the HSE IT systems,” the heath service said in a tweet. “We have taken the precaution of shutting down all our our IT systems in order to protect them from this attack and to allow us fully assess the situation with our own security partners.”

Covid-19 vaccinations are not impacted by the attack, according to the HSE. The GP and close contact testing referrals system is down, but walk-in tests are still going ahead, it said in a later tweet.

The attackers exploited a computer vulnerability that was not previously known using so-called Conti ransomware, HSE head of operations Anne O’Connor told RTE Radio. The attack “could go on for a number of days,” she said. The HSE may have to cancel many services if the attack continues into next week, O’Connor added.

The shutdown is already having knock on effects: one of Ireland’s biggest maternity hospitals canceled most appointments Friday, while the health system is now using paper records to operate.

Irish Health Service Shuts Down IT System Amid Cyber Attack

“We are at the very early stages of fully understanding the threat, the impact, and trying to contain,” health service Chief Executive Officer Paul Reid told RTE Radio.

Ireland’s National Cyber Security Center is “engaging with EU and other international partners to share information on this incident and to ensure that the HSE has immediate access to
international cyber supports,” the communications ministry said in an emailed statement.

The incident comes in a week which saw the largest gasoline pipeline in the U.S. taken offline for five days following a cyberattack.

In 2017, the U.K’s National Health Service was infiltrated by ransomware, affecting 45 organizations and forcing hospitals to turn away patients.

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