Singapore disconnects health care computers from the Internet after cyber attack

Reuters
Singapore has disconnected computers from the Internet at public health care centers to prevent cyberattacks of the kind that caused its worst breach of personal data.
Reuters

Singapore has disconnected computers from the Internet at public health care centers to prevent cyberattacks of the kind that caused its worst breach of personal data, a government official said on Tuesday.

Singapore started to cut web access for civil servants in 2016 to guard against cyber attacks, but stopped short of including public health care institutions. Officials may still surf the web using separate personal or agency-issued devices.

In the most recent attack in June, hackers stole particulars of more than 1.5 million patients, including the prime minister’s drug prescriptions, in what the government has called “a deliberate, targeted and well-planned cyber attack.”

The government on Monday wrapped up the task of disconnecting staff computers at public health care facilities from the Internet, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean said.

“We could, and should, have implemented Internet surfing separation on public health care systems, just as we have done on our public sector systems.

“This would have disrupted the cyber kill-chain for the hacker and reduced the surface area exposed to attack. This has now been done.”

He did not say why the measure had not been adopted earlier.

The disconnection will cause “some inconvenience for patients and health care staff, as a result of the unavailability of some IT system connections that require the Internet,” the health ministry said on Monday.

Government officials did not say who might have been behind the attack, and cyber security experts said it was too early to identify the infiltrators.


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