Reports today of yet another serious cyber attack on a Victorian hospital network, which has cancelled surgeries and shut down the entire network, proves the Andrews Labor Government has not listened to previous warnings on cyber security.
In May 2019, the Victorian Auditor General handed down a scathing report against the Andrews Government into Security of Patients’ Hospital Data. The report found:
• “Victoria’s public health system is highly vulnerable to the kind of cyberattacks.”
• “There are key weaknesses in health services’ physical security.”
• “Our (VAGO) testing demonstrated that all the audited health services are vulnerable to attacks that could steal or alter patient data.”
• “Health services do not have appropriate governance and policy frameworks to support data security.”
• “While digital records can improve patient care, a cybersecurity breach could alter or delete patients’ personal data or permit unauthorised access to this data. A breach could also disable health services’ ICT systems and prevent staff from accessing patient information.”
The audit followed an attack in February 2019 where a cardiology service provider located within a Melbourne private hospital experienced a ransomware attack.
In that case, a cybercrime group gained access to the cardiology patient system, encrypted approximately 15 000 patient files, and demanded a ransom in exchange for a password to fix the data. Media reports indicated that the cardiology provider was unable to access some patient files for more than three weeks, and that patients arrived for appointments that had been deleted.
In October 2019, computer networks in at least seven major regional hospitals were locked down after a widespread ransomware attack shut booking systems, delayed surgeries and reignited fears over patient information security.
Comments attributable to Shadow Minister for Health, Georgie Crozier
“The Andrews Labor Government was given a direct and serious warning that Victoria’s public health system was highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The government must explain to Victorians why yet again, another significant breach has occurred.
“Victorian patients deserve to have full confidence in our health system and that this attack has not occurred because key warnings were ignored.”