Waikato DHB cyber attack: Govt says it will not pay ransom to hackers | #government | #hacking | #cyberattack


Waikato DHB’s IT centre is the target of a major cyber security attack. Video / Waikato DHB

The Government won’t pay a ransom to those behind the Waikato DHB cyber attack which crashed the board’s entire system last Tuesday.

A group claiming to be responsible for the cyber attack claimed today that it had accessed confidential patient notes, staff details and financial information.

Health Minister Andrew Little said he was aware some journalists received what appeared to be personal and patient information stolen in a ransomware attack from the Waikato DHB

“Ransomware attacks are a crime. The New Zealand Government will not pay ransoms to criminals because this will encourage further offending.”

The attack has been described as “the biggest in New Zealand’s history” – and saw a move back to manual processes, surgeries delayed and people urged to stay away from emergency departments unless it was an emergency.

“Patient wellbeing and supporting the staff remains the Government’s first priority.”

Little said he would remain in contact with Waikato DHB Commissioner Dame Karen Poutasi about any assistance the DHB required to support people whose information may have been held in the DHB’s systems.

The group that claimed to be behind the hack said the hijacked information included personal information, including financial information, of staff and patients.

Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee said he would not comment on the email sent by the group claiming responsibility for the cyber attack because it was a matter for police.

There was a plan in place if information were made public.

Snee declined to say whether there had been any communication between the DHB and hackers, or on whether patient information had been accessed.

Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee has repeatedly said they will not pay a ransom to the hackers. Photo / Duncan Brown
Waikato DHB chief executive Kevin Snee has repeatedly said they will not pay a ransom to the hackers. Photo / Duncan Brown

There was always potential that information held by the DHB could be accessed, which it had initially hoped was a “low risk” and they wanted to educate people how to respond to that if it did happen.

On Monday, Snee said there may be some concern and anxiety about data and information held by the Waikato DHB but assured patients that didn’t seem to be the case.

“There is no evidence, at this point, that any data has been accessed and Waikato DHB is continuing to work with cybersecurity experts.”

Several hours after Snee made those comments, an email was sent to some media organisations, including the Herald, claiming patients’ information had been accessed.

“We stole documents and he knew it … We have a lot of personal info of employees and patients, financial information etc,” the emailer said.

“We give them 1 more chance to contact us. 1 more day.”

The Herald has provided the email to police.

Police said the email is “being assessed”.

The group claimed to have given the DHB seven days to contact it when it launched its cyber attack but says it has not yet heard back.

It said it has deleted most of the backups but could help restore the systems if the DHB responds but that had not happened despite several attempts to contact the DHB.

“They decided to ignore us and torture their employees and patients. It is only their fault that DHB is still offline.”

Little said the police investigation was ongoing and anyone in the Waikato region concerned about their personal information could contact the DHB special response line 0800 561 234 from 8.30am.

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