Government statement following meeting to discuss cyber-attack on HSE

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Government Ministers meet on the HSE Cyber Attack

The Taoiseach, the Tánaiste and Minister for Environment, Climate and Communications, Eamon Ryan, Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys, Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly and Minister of State for Communications and eGovernment, Ossian Smyth, met this afternoon to discuss the ongoing impact of the ransomware cyber-attack on the HSE, the intensive technical responses that have been deployed and the ongoing work to recover the HSE’s IT systems, to ensure against further damage and, most importantly, to support the restoration of health care services.  

The Government’s main concern is to secure as speedy a resumption of all medical services as can possibly be achieved, consistent with ensuring that the HSE’s system can be safely and robustly restored.  No effort is being spared to achieve this.  

The Government is adopting a determined and methodical approach to resolving the impact of this attack. 

All necessary resources and personnel are engaged in support of the HSE. The response to the attack is being led by the National Cyber Security Centre, working in very close collaboration with the HSE, the Government’s Chief Information Officer and a specialist cyber security contractor.  In addition, a number of private sector cyber security experts have volunteered their support in recent days.  

There are currently hundreds of people deployed to tackle this attack in accordance with the pre-determined plan for such cyber-attacks. The necessary, detailed technical work is continuing as a priority to secure and restore the HSE’s IT infrastructure. The HSE is continuing to make the necessary arrangements in the interim to provide the maximum possible availability of services to patients across the State. 

While the process will, inevitably, take some time, the HSE and its partners are working to ensure that the maintenance and restoration of care for patients can progress in the coming days. The details of the hospital services available and being restored will be updated by the HSE on its website on a regular basis.  

This attack on Ireland’s health care system and its patients was carried out by an international cyber-crime gang. It is aimed at nothing other than extorting money and those who carried it out have no concern for the severe impact on patients needing care or for the privacy of those whose private information has been stolen.  

The Garda authorities, working actively with international partners, are pursuing every avenue available in investigating those responsible.  The Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau is leading on the criminal investigation and will continue to work closely with the NCSC and the HSE as it develops.  

These ransomware attacks are despicable crimes, most especially when they target critical health infrastructure and sensitive patient data. The significant disruption to health services is to be condemned, especially at this time. 

Any public release by the criminals behind this attack of any stolen patient data is equally and utterly contemptible. There is a risk that the medical and other data of patients will be abused.  Anyone who is affected is urged to contact the HSE and the Garda authorities.