HSE attack has put some services ‘back 30 to 40 years’

CEO Reid says damage caused by cyberattack cannot be overstated



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4 June 2021 | 0

The damage caused by HSE cyberattack, and its subsequent impact on the health service “cannot be overstated,” according to Paul Reid, CEO of the Health Service Executive.

Speaking at the HSE’s weekly Covid-19 update, Reid said the attack “completely wiped out over 2,000 systems, which are all having to be rebuilt.”

While progress has been made in repairing systems after the attack three weeks ago, services around the country are still experiencing disruptions and its systems are still not functioning as usual.




Of the HSE’s 5,000 servers, 96% have been screened and protected, which must be done before they can be restored. A further 50% of the HSE’s devices have been screened and protected to date.

According to the HSE, it will take a number of weeks to safely restore the 2,000 impacted IT systems.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Reid said the impact of the attack had put some services back 30 to 40 years.

Progress has been made on some of the “key national systems like radiology, laboratories, the patient administration system, radiotherapy, oncology – all within a closed environment so what that means is a particular hospital may have a lot of those services back, but not being able to communicate externally across hospitals,” said Reid.

“Temple Street [Children’s Hospital] has been restored and hopefully Crumlin [Children’s Hospital] today and similarly with some of their radiology imaging systems as well – so steady progress, but still going to be a few weeks to build this fall out structure back.”

Medical card services have been significantly disrupted and the HSE’s processes are slower as a result. As it is not currently possible to register medical card applications online, the HSE has asked that people send in postal applications. It is processing emergency cards as quickly as possible, but applications for non- emergency cards have been impacted.

Although the data encryption key has been provided, Reid said it did not cover “the trail of devastation they left behind and its impact on us”.

Since the attack, the HSE has been focused on getting services back up and running, recommencing outpatient appointments, rebuilding services, assessing the impact of the incident, and protecting data.

Reid said he was not aware of any further contact with the criminals who launched the cyberattack.

Specialists and the HSE’s legal team are continuing to monitor the dark web to check for activity involving any data stolen in the cyber-attack.

The HSE has issued a high court order to stop personal and medical information that may have been stolen in this cyber-attack from being published online.

People receiving suspicious calls, texts or other contacts seeking personal or banking details are advised to report these contacts to their local Garda station or the Garda confidential line 1800 666 111.

TechCentral Reporters

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