Published: Mon, July 23, 2018
Medicine | By Tracy Klein

Cyberattack on Singapore health database, 1.5 million people's details stolen

Cyberattack on Singapore health database, 1.5 million people's details stolen

The health records and non-medical personal information of 1.5 million patients, including Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who was specifically targeted in the "unprecedented" attack, have been stolen, authorities said Friday.

"Investigations by the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) and the Integrated Health Information System (IHiS) confirmed that this was a deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyberattack", the statement said.

Channel Asia understands so far that the SingHealth IT system was compromised through an initial breach on a particular front-end workstation, gaining privileged account credentials to gain access to the database. This information is typical personal identifiable information (PII) such as names, date of birth, gender, addresses, and race.

"Please be assured that NO phone number, financial information, or other patient medical records have been illegally accessed".

However, records were not edited or deleted at all.

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.

Police said a review of the SingHealth system will be conducted and affected patients will be informed.

The government believes that the cyber attack was well planned by professionals and it is likely that the motive was to find state secrets. "Reports of such fraud in other public health systems there", - reads the statement of the authorities.

"We apologise unreservedly to patients for the anxiety caused and will continue to do all that we can to reach out to them", SingHealth said in its update.

"Singapore ranks among the leaders in cyber security, and we would like to see more governments follow their lead in disclosing breaches", Hoh said.

SingHealth employees temporarily prohibited from using work computers.

Just a few months ago, an Iran-based hacking group allegedly stole data from Singapore's Nanyang Technological University (NTU), National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore University of Technology and Design and Singapore Management University.

Unusual activity was first detected on July 4 on one of SingHealth's IT databases.

Javvad Malik, security advocate at AlienVault, said the breach drives home the importance for all companies across all verticals, particularly those which deal with personal data of any kind, to have effective threat detection and incident response controls in place so any such breaches can be detected quickly and stopped from turning into a large incident.

Patients affected in the latest breach will be contacted by the government informing them about the attack starting Friday. "If we discover a breach, we must promptly put it right, improve our systems, and inform the people affected". Citing data from Ponemone Institute, he noted that a lost or stolen healthcare record could fetch US$408.

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