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An attack on society… May 18, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Hearing some of the reports from people in the health service in the wake of the attack on computer systems there, there’s deep concern and no small level of chaos at ground level – from having to deal with patients in very difficult situations where there’s no records available to concerns about logistical and other elements.

One small but not unimportant thing, if accurate, is the following:

Minister for eGovernment Ossian Smyth has said he is not aware of any loss of data as a result of the cyber attack on the Health Service Executive’s IT system.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Claire Byrne, Mr Smyth said the HSE backup servers, which stores backup data, have not been affected.

Though unfortunately:

Mr Smyth said he would expect that some data would be published on the darknet.

He agreed that this may be distressing for some people, but said most of the HSE data affected has been administrative data rather than clinical data.

And there’s questions over the level of data – assessments on patients, etc, that was held and which could be publicly available – that makes people’s concerns about this entirely understandable. 


The minister also said that many of Ireland’s major hospitals have their own systems and in most cases their clinical data was not breached.

It certainly seems to suggest that decentralised systems are more optimal given the reality that some people will attempt to break into them.  But there are very real impacts from these attacks – the costs of bringing back the systems to the status quo ante is going to run into the tens of millions of euro. The range of services that have suffered from this is extremely extensive. And:

Meanwhile, the HSE has warned GPs that its clinical laboratory capacity for checking samples from patients may be reduced to as little as 10%, due to last week’s cyber attack.

In a letter from Chief Clinical Officer Dr Colm Henry, and seen by RTÉ News, GPs have been told not to send any samples of any kind to HSE laboratories unless it is “essential to decisions that must be made right away”.

There’s a clear expectation that those responsible for this won’t be caught.

On the political level I haven’t seen much that seems to indicate the government is being blamed for this, and seeing as there appears to be a near permanent effort by some to enter state systems perhaps that is understandable – though given the scale of these attacks one might assume that security would be more comprehensive. Notable that there’s talk of upgrading ‘redundant’ and ‘old’ systems to face this challenge. But perhaps the level of political impact depends upon the scale of what has happened and how it continues to impact. If the issues are systemic then that’s a different matter from something that’s relatively containable. And of course that positions this well beyond the political – even if that’s a factor, because this hits at people at their most vulnerable.


1. Tomboktu - May 18, 2021

On the lunch-time news, RTÉ just asked Stephen Donnelly in essence i.f the hackers will publish any patient data they have downloaded.

On this occasion, I would have been happy for Donnelly to patronise them to hell and reply “Hang on a moment, I’ll call then and ask for you.” (He didn’t.)

Liked by 1 person

2. anarchaeologist - May 18, 2021

On a recent trip to Sligo Hospital we were put waiting in a small office and I was a bit freaked to see that they were using Windows XP. The nurse told me it’s still in use throughout the HSE, but that can’t be right?


WorldbyStorm - May 18, 2021

I suspect it can be. And this 2021.


roddy - May 18, 2021

Any way of blaming all of this on SF?

Liked by 1 person

WorldbyStorm - May 18, 2021

We’ll know on Sunday! 😦


Dr Nightdub - May 18, 2021

Some time in the last few days, someone tweeted a link to a news report from (I think) last year that said thousands of HSE computers were still running on Windows 7…

Liked by 1 person

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