HSE to cautiously open servers to outside world after WannaCry attacks

17 May 2017

Image: sfam_photo

The HSE hopes it won’t be releasing a floodgate of attacks from WannaCry ransomware as it reopens its servers to the outside world.

The damage inflicted by the WannaCry ransomware across the world has driven IT teams and CIO to breaking point in their efforts to patch and protect their systems from one of the largest cyberattacks ever orchestrated.

The first signs of damage were seen when the NHS in the UK reported multiple instances of systems being infected with the malware, resulting in some medical centres being rendered inoperable.

Here in Ireland, the HSE was lucky in that its systems were almost completely unaffected. However, fearing a similar situation similar to our nearest neighbour, it cut its systems off from the wider internet as a safety measure.

It is believed that the only affected HSE operation was in Wexford where a community care unit – one not connected to the HSE’s national servers – was infected with the virus.

Support staff to monitor connection closely

Now, the health agency’s staff will once again be able to have online access to the outside world as it has confirmed that a reboot of its servers took place yesterday (16 May) to protect against WannaCry.

Staff were unable to access emails or perform any internet-related activities over the past few days, but, as of yesterday’s update, they were able to internally email one another.

Now, tentatively, the HSE said it is looking to connect again with external email later today.

“While the vast majority are now fully functional again, HSE IT staff are continuing to provide support to allow for five servers to be brought back online,” a statement read.

“The identified problems were not related to any security or infection issues. Business continuity processes remain in place to protect the delivery of patient care.”

The HSE’s six national IT help desks will be providing support in the event of any WannaCry breaches.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic