PM, 15L citizens targeted in Singapore's "biggest data breach"
PM, 15L citizens targeted in Singapore's "biggest data breach"
Singapore personal data hack hits 1.5m, health authority says
22 July, 2018, 09:27
Hackers have stolen health records belonging to 1.5 million Singaporeans, including Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong who was specifically targeted in the city state's biggest ever data breach, authorities said Friday.
Some 1.5 million people who visited specialist outpatient clinics and polyclinics run by the company over a three-year period were affected, authorities said.
Government officials did not say who might have been behind the attack, but a joint statement by the health and communications ministries suggested a high degree of sophistication.
The systematic siphoning of the SingHealth database went undetected for almost three years and Singapore's government has confirmed that the records haven't been tampered with but only copied.
The compromised data includes personal information and medication dispensed to patients, but medical records and clinical notes have not been affected, the health and communications ministries said. There was no evidence of a similar breach in the other public healthcare IT systems.
In a statement on Facebook, Lee said that "the attackers targeted his medication data, specifically and repeatedly".
What is important, he said, is the country's cyber defences and the way it responds to cyber incidents and recovers from them.
But in a news conference with local media, David Koh, chief executive of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, declined to discuss the perpetrators for security reasons.
SingHealth has imposed a temporary Internet surfing separation on all of its 28,000 staff's work computers.
The hackers first broke into SingHealth's IT system via a front-end workstation, and later managed to obtain log-in details to assess the database, according to CSA's investigations.
The patient database of the country's SingHealth healthcare group, was stolen in "very serious and unprecedented, massive cyber attack", according to the country's health minister Gan Kim Yong. SingHealth lodged a police report on 12 Jul 2018. "They have huge resources, and never give up trying", he added.
"A cyber espionage threat actor could leverage disclosure of sensitive health information, or financial health related vulnerabilities to coerce an individual in position of interest to conduct espionage", he added. Despite several measures taken to prevent cyber-attacks, notorious hackers tend to find a loophole and exploit it to their benefit.
Despite that, Mr Lee said: "We can not go back to paper records and files". He said: "With cyber attackers getting better-skilled by the day, it's not surprising to see breaches happen despite our best efforts".
Mr Lee, who has been Singapore's prime minister since 2004, has been treated for intermediate-grade malignant lymphoma and prostate cancer. "If we discover a breach, we must promptly put it right, improve our systems, and inform the people affected". PM Lee assured that the hack is not going to be a setback in the digitization of health records, but a motivation to build a "secure and smart nation".
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