Hackers steal 1.5 million health records in Singapore's worst cyberattack

University data breach

University data breach Reuters and Facebook

While the country was "relatively unscathed" by last year's major ransomware campaigns, CSA observed around 750 unique C&C servers in Singapore, and a daily average of about 2,700 botnet drones with Singapore IP addresses.

During a press conference, investigating authorities disclosed that Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was "specifically and repeatedly targeted". All patient records in SingHealth's IT system remain intact.

The Singapore hack is a happy ending incident.

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In the statement, CSA and IHiS described the attack as "deliberate, targeted, and well-planned". "We have not found evidence of a similar breach in the other public healthcare IT systems", said the statement. "Upon discovery, the breach was immediately contained, preventing further illegal exfiltration".

Wealthy Singapore is hyper-connected and on a drive to digitise government records and essential services, including medical records which public hospitals and clinics can share via a centralised database.

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While officials refused to comment on the identity of the hackers citing "operational security", experts told AFP that the complexity of the attack and its focus on high-profile targets like the prime minister pointed to the hand of a state-actor.

Meanwhile on 12 July 2018, a police report was made, with investigations ongoing.

SingHealth employees temporarily prohibited from using work computers. "They have huge resources, and never give up trying", he added.

Olli Jarva, Managing Consultant for Software Integrity Group at Synopsys said, "The healthcare data breach outlines a new reality".

"We can not go back to paper records and files", Lee said. "Given the nature of this attack, it is hard to say exactly what the end game is, especially when the attackers haven't identified themselves".

The federal government is automatically assigning each Australian a digital health record unless they opt-out.

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It is a significant breach reminiscent of one at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) in the United States, when more than 21 million federal government staff's records were stolen .

The hackers infiltrated SingHealth and stole the health records, including the outpatient prescriptions of 160,000 people, from the period between 1 May 2015 and 4 July 2018, they said.

Earlier this year, Germany's government IT network was attacked by hackers targeting the interior ministries' private networks.

"It was not the work of casual hackers or criminal gangs", the ministry said.

Wong Onn Chee, chief technology officer of security firm Resolvo, stressed that when it comes to cybersecurity, it is "not a matter of if, but when". It was confirmed to be a cyberattack six days later.

The hackers posted an image of a Guy Fawkes mask - the symbol of the Anonymous group - on the prime minister's site with the words: "It's great to be Singaporean today".

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