Patient Information Released to Media After Waikato DHB Cyberattack
Yesterday, hackers who launched a cyberattack on the Waikato District Health Board system leaked patient information to multiple media outlets, including the NZ Herald.
“We are aware that the media have received what appears to be personal and patient information from Waikato DHB’s information systems,” the hospital group said in an update.
The media agencies refused to publicly disclose the information and turned it over to the police.
Since then, Waikato DHB has set up a 24/7 hotline, which has received 34 calls to date.
WHY IS IT IMPORTANT
In a separate statement, Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said he expects Waikato DHB to “notify and offer support to individuals identified in this information without delay.”
âWe would also expect DHB to actively monitor potential host sites on the Dark Web or elsewhere,â he added.
The commissioner also reminded all DHBs to address any security flaws identified during the Department of Health’s health IT systems audit last year. “If we find that a DHB does not have adequate security, we may issue Privacy Act 2020 Compliance Notices and, if necessary, pursue prosecutions,” a- he warned.
The National Cyber ââSecurity Center, Government Communications Security Bureau, Privacy Commission and New Zealand Police are all currently involved in the cybersecurity case.
THE BROADER CONTEXT
On May 18, Waikato DHB suffered a complete failure of its information system following a cyber attack. The hack may have initially come via an email attachment, he said.
The hospital group has since applied comprehensive manual processes throughout its network, while continuing to resolve its backlog of deferred treatments.
âAcute surgeries are progressing and planned elective surgeries have continued where they can be done safely. Many of our clinics are still open,â he said.
Waikato DHB has collaborated with Te Aho o Te Kahu or the Cancer Control Agency and Radiation Oncology Task Force to ensure uninterrupted treatment for approximately 70 cancer patients. The hospital group provides the second largest radiation oncology department in New Zealand.
In Wednesday’s update, he said 18 of the highest clinically priority patients were brought to the Kathleen Kilgour Center in Tauranga or the Bowen Icon Cancer Center in Wellington. “The others are being seen this week or the following week,” he added.
ON THE RECORD
“Waikato DHB apologizes to our patients for the inconvenience caused by this disruption and appreciates their cooperation and understanding. We recognize the additional distress and concern for the patients and their whÄnau at this time,” the hospital group said. .