Dublin’s Coombe hospital shuts down IT systems after cyberattack

16 Dec 2021

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The HSE said several systems were affected but no impact outside of the hospital has been discovered.

The Coombe hospital in Dublin has confirmed that it shut down its IT systems after being targeted by a cyberattack.

The hospital for women and infants put a notice on its website today (16 December) to say its systems were targeted but its services are continuing as normal.

“The Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital can confirm that it has been the subject of a cyberattack overnight,” the statement said. “We wish to reassure all of those accessing our services that these services are continuing as normal.

“We have locked down all our IT systems on a precautionary basis and are working closely with the HSE to resolve this matter.”

A HSE statement said several systems were impacted at the hospital and it has chosen to disconnect it from the National Health Network.

“At this point we have not seen evidence of an impact external to the Coombe hospital but we are continuing with external support to assess whether there is any broader impact,” it added. “We will share further information as we have it.”

Minister of State Ossian Smyth has described the attack as serious and said the National Cyber Security Centre and the Garda National Crime Bureau are involved, according to RTÉ.

HSE cyberattack

This comes less than a week after a PwC report into the ransomware attack that hit the HSE earlier this year. The report said the attacker gained access to the HSE’s system eight weeks before the ransomware attack and were able to achieve their objectives “with relative ease” due to the “frailty” of the HSE’s IT systems.

It added that the HSE “remains vulnerable” to cyberattacks and recommended a number of measures to strengthen security.

In May of this year, the HSE was subjected to a cyberattack that infiltrated its systems using Conti ransomware, which affected more than 80pc of its IT infrastructure and caused severe impacts to Ireland’s health service.

It took more than a month for most of the HSE’s servers to be decrypted and for its services to be back online, with the initial costs of the ransomware attack being “well over €100m” according to HSE CEO Paul Reid.

A recent report indicated that cybercrime is on the rise and cost the Irish economy €9.6bn last year, with ransomware attacks accounting for €2bn of the total figure.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic