The Irish healthcare system is expected to spend millions of euros in rebuilding its IT system from the cyber attack, which is set to cause significant disruption to clinical services over the next week.
Ireland’s healthcare operator shut down all of its IT systems on Friday to protect it from a significant ransomware attack, with the government said to have been committed by an international cyber crime gang.
While the COVID-19 vaccination program was not directly affected and the Health Service Executive (HSE) restored its testing and tracing system within hours, hospital appointments at all outpatient services have been canceled.
HSE Chief Executive Paul Reid told national broadcaster RTE, “What we have to do here is a very important reconstruction. It will be in millions in terms of the impact on our system, no doubt.”
“Even when we withdraw those systems, there is a period of time where it is impossible to say what will remain constant, so we will monitor its effect for a period much further than this week Huh.”
In some parts of the country, cancellations included procedures for radiotherapy appointments, cardiac checks, X-rays, CT scans, and non-emergency blood tests because some hospitals were tougher than others.
The HSE said that radiology services were widely canceled across the country due to reliance on the IT system.
Information from some hospitals was compromised, Reid said, with officials not yet aware of the extent of the breach.
Ireland Minister Ossian Smith, responsible for e-government, said that since most of the HSE data is administrative, clinical data is unlikely to be broken. He said that he understands that health services’ backup files remain unaffected so there is no data loss.
Ransomware attacks usually involve the infection of computers with malicious software. With the demand for ransom to restore the computer’s functions, users are left out of their systems.
Irish Prime Minister Michael Martin has said that the government will not pay any ransom.
© Thomson Reuters 2021