Irish Department of Health target of new cyber attack

Latest attempt comes days after similar attack struck country's health service

Ireland's government said 'some functions' of its health ministry's IT system were suspended as a 'precautionary measure', following a suspected cyber attack.
Ireland's government said 'some functions' of its health ministry's IT system were suspended as a 'precautionary measure', following a suspected cyber attack.

Ireland's Health Ministry was the target of an attempted cyber attack, the Irish government said on Sunday, days after a similar strike on the country's health service.

"The National Cyber Security Centre became aware on Thursday of an attempted cyber attack on the Department of Health," the government said.

It said "some functions" of the department's IT system had been suspended "as a precautionary measure".

"This attempted attack remains under investigation, however there are indications that this was a ransomware attack similar to that which has affected the [Public Health Service] HSE," the government said.

The cyber attack on HSE, which its chief Paul Reid described to public broadcaster RTE as an "international criminal operation", forced the Irish health service to shut down its computer systems.

Non-urgent appointments were cancelled but the country's Covid-19 vaccination campaign was not affected.

Attacks using ransomware, a form of malicious software that encrypts a victim's files, have been on the rise in recent years.

After the attacker has control of the computer system, they demand a ransom from the victim to restore access to the data.

On Wednesday, Britain's Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab called for an international coalition to address the growing threat from states and criminal groups that launch cyber attacks on democracies, implicating Russia, China, Iran and North Korea.

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Updated: May 17, 2021 11:35 AM

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