Russia condemns cyber attack on HSE and vows to help Irish government track those responsible | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack


The Russians have vowed to help the Irish government track down the cyber criminals who hacked the HSE – if only they were asked.

In an exclusive response to The Star, the Russian Embassy in Ireland said it “condemns in the strongest terms” the recent hack on the HSE, which is now being blamed on a criminal gang based in their native country.

The Russian gang, named ‘Wizard Spider’ are said to have held the HSE to ransom – demanding E16M to overturn the now extremely costly attack on the State.

And now the Russian Embassy has told this paper that its government, led by Vladimir Putin, stands ready to assist Ireland – but we haven’t yet asked for their help.

07/04/2021 (L TO R) An Taoiseach, Micheal Martin TD CEO of the HSE, Paul Reid speaking to media following a visit to the Citywest Vaccination Centre in Saggart, Co.Dublin.

“The Embassy condemns in strongest terms any type of criminal activity in cyberspace, including this particular incident, which has caused damage to the HSE system in Ireland.

“We do not have any way to judge on who the perpetrators are. The Irish authorities have not yet approached the Embassy regarding this ransomware attack.

“It’s pretty clear that if they do, the Russian Side would be ready to look into the matter, since the Russian Government has been consistently promoting initiatives on strengthening international cooperation on the issues of international information security and confronting effectively cyberspace crime,” a spokesperson told this paper.

The attack is believed to be the “most significant cybercrime attack” on the Irish State

The comment comes in spite of growing concerns that Putin’s regime is actively involved in hacking other countries across the world – particularly the US.

Though experts believe the attack on the HSE, and now on the Department of Health, is the work of a well-known crime gang operating out of Russia.

The gang – named ‘Wizard Spider’ have stolen 700GB of unencrypted files from the Irish health service — including patient and employee information, contracts, financial statements, payroll and more.

They have reportedly told the HSE they would provide a ­decryptor and delete the stolen data if a ransom of $19,999,000 is handed over.

It comes as Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys met Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and the country’s top cybercrime detectives over the hacking controversy.

Ms Humphreys has heard how the Garda officers involved in the investigation are working closely with international police and intelligence agencies in their battle to beat the hackers.

A spokesman for the Minister said: “The Minister for Justice, Heather Humphreys TD, this morning met with the Garda Commissioner, Detective Chief Superintendent Paul Cleary of the Garda Cybercrime Bureau and senior officials in the Department of Justice on the cyberattack on the HSE.

Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, arrives at the Government Buildings in Dublin for a meeting of the cabinet
Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys, arrives at the Government Buildings in Dublin for a meeting of the cabinet

“Since Friday, Minister Humphreys has been in contact with her senior officials who are supporting the National Cyber Security Centre, which is leading the State response to the cyberattack.

Commissioner Harris informed Minister Humphreys that An Garda Síochána is providing full support to the National Cyber Security Centre and is also liaising and co-operating with international law enforcement partners.

“Commissioner Harris and Chief Supt Cleary also updated Minister Humphreys on the criminal investigation in the cyberattack.

“The Minister will update her government colleagues and will remain in close contact with Commissioner Harris and his team.”

Meanwhile HSE boss Paul Reid has said that fixing the damage to the health service’s IT systems will cost “tens of millions” of euro.

The impact of the attack on services is expected to last throughout this week and beyond, with thousands of patients facing cancelled appointments and delays.

Private and voluntary hospitals will be brought on board to ease the burden, with “alternative processes” to be put in place for urgent cancer care needs.

Mr Reid warned that the risks associated with the cyber attack “increases every day”.

He said: “This is quite a very serious criminal act on sick people, and it’s having very severe consequences for us.

“We are setting out to mitigate, obviously, as much as we can, the extent of some of those impacts.

“Our team has been working around the clock for a weekend with the best national and international expertise on technology and cyber crime.”

Asked about the potential cost of fixing the problem, he replied: “This will be in the tens of millions in terms of impacts on our systems. There’s no doubt about it.

“Whatever investment is required is certainly here and we’re doing it and we’re carrying on.”

Mr Reid told RTE’s Morning Ireland there are 19 voluntary hospitals with “standalone systems” that can be brought on board, including the Mater, St James’, Beaumont, St Vincent’s and Tallaght hospital.

In parallel to this, efforts are being directed at getting lab systems, patient information systems, diagnostics and oncology services back up and running.

“Where those systems are down there are certain care services, so for example, cancer, urgent radiology, that we’re putting alternative processes for, there’s some support through the private hospitals,” Mr Reid said.

He urged patients wondering about the status of their appointments to visit the HSE website, which is being updated regularly.

The attack, which came to light on Friday, has also extended to the Department of Health.

Asked how long the issue might last, Mr Reid replied: “That’s the unknown, unfortunately, for right now. This is a really very serious hit, a complex hit.”

He added: “This will impact us well throughout this week. And even as we get those systems up, there is a period of time in which it’s impossible to say what will stay stable, the interconnectivity between each of those systems.

“So we are in for a period well beyond this week of really monitoring and assessing the impact of this.”

Mr Reid admitted that there is potential for sensitive patient data to be released online.

He said: “That’s what these organisations set out to do. We haven’t established what level of detail they fully have. But that’s what they set out to do.

“Everything we’re doing since we began on Friday night is setting out to mitigate that, to rebuild our services and to reassess what has and has not been accessed.

“And how we can take it back securely. But it’s a really difficult process we’re in.”

He said the HSE has to assess 2,000 different systems to ascertain what information has been taken.





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