Home Health Cork hospital had help from Defence Forces after HSE cyberattack

Cork hospital had help from Defence Forces after HSE cyberattack

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5th March 2020....... Mercy University hospital in Cork Picture: Eddie O'Hare

breakingnews.ie– The Defence Forces have deployed nearly 850 personnel to 48 HSE sites, including hospitals, to help restore IT services after the devastating May 14th cyberattack.

As the Irish Examiner reports, these specialist teams only completed their work on Friday, and are expected to remain on standby for two more weeks, in case of further problems.

Members of the army, air, and naval services were deployed, 837 personnel in total, including to Cork University Hospital (CUH), a Defence Forces spokesperson said.

The attack on the HSE’s IT system, by a criminal gang based in Russia, took place in the early hours of May 14. It crippled patient services, and the HSE chief, Paul Reid, has warned that it could take several months to restore all of the systems impacted.

A Defence Forces spokesperson told the Irish Examiner: “Personnel from 1 Brigade Communication and Information Services Company and the naval service deployed to Cork University Hospital.”

CUH staff were assisted by a “computer incidence response team” that was on-site between May 26th and June 8th.

Specialised support

These teams have up to five members, and provide specialised support, including reimaging of computers and laptops. This means removing the operating systems on all computers, and installing clean systems.

So far, 69,081 devices have been cleaned, out of a total of 83,000, the HSE has said.

And 3,933 out of 4,891 servers have been restored.

Non-technical support and assistance were also provided to the HSE, the Defence Forces spokesman said.

Meanwhile, a capacity review of the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) is now complete, a spokesperson for the Department of Communications said.

Lack of investment

The report is with Eamon Ryan, the communications minister, and Ossian Smyth, state minister. It was expected to examine staffing and budgets, among other areas.

The spokesperson said that the ministers are “considering its findings and recommendations”.

In the aftermath of the cyber-attack, there was strong criticism, by opposition politicians and cyber experts, of the lack of investment in cyber-security at national level in Ireland.

The spokesperson said: “The NCSC works closely with our critical infrastructure operators to ensure they have appropriate measures in place to reduce cyber-risks and support recovery.”

The NCSC continues to support the HSE in tackling the cyber-attack, he said, and the investigation is led by the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau.