#computersecurity | Impact still being felt in south-west hospitals a week after cyber attack


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A ransomware cyber attack on south-west hospitals continues to have an impact on internet and email-based services. The attack on Monday last week targeted south-west and Gippsland hospitals. A Southwest Healthcare spokeswoman said today that the repercussions of the attack were still being felt. “We’re still experiencing similar IT communications impacts as last week, but, thankfully, all patient services remain unaffected, throughout all of our campuses,” she said. Hospitals that are a part of the South West Alliance of Rural Health and Gippsland Health Alliance were the focus of the cyber infiltration. The SWARH includes the Balmoral Bush Nursing Centre, Barwon Health, Barwon South Western Regional Integrated Cancer Centre, Casterton Memorial Hospital, Colac Area Health, Dartmoor Bush Nursing Centre, Hesse Rural Health Service, Heywood Rural Health, Lorne Community Hospital, Moyne Health Services, Otway Health & Community Services, Portland District Health, Southwest Healthcare (Warrnambool) Terang & Mortlake Health Services, Timboon Healthcare and Western District Health Services. That involves Warrnambool, Portland, Hamilton, Port Fairy and Colac hospitals. The Australian Cyber Security Centre, one of the nation’s top spy agencies, is investigating the cyber attack alongside Victoria and Federal Police. Last week David Cullen, the state government’s principal advisor on cyber incidents, said there no information to indicate that patient data has been compromised. “This will be a long, complex and protracted forensic investigation,” he said. Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said last week surgeries and outpatient care would be delayed after the ransomware attack and almost 30 surgeries in Geelong were put off. South-west hospitals were forced to disconnect computer services in an effort to quarantine the impact of a cyber attack. Anyone who wants additional reassurance that their surgical, medical, dental, GP clinic community health and/or mental health appointments are unaffected can contact the 24/7 SWH hotline on 5564 4253. Internal communication issues at Warrnambool Base Hospital were last week being managed using a range of initiatives, including fax machines. South West Healthcare acting chief executive officer Andrew Trigg said then that staff were more heavily relying on phones and faxes. He said specific incident control groups had been established. “Staff are being regularly updated via Facebook, notice boards, a daily (hard copy) communique and regular face-to-face management updates,” he said. “Many paperless-related activities have been swapped for hard copy. “We want to assure everyone that none of the above is impacting on the services to our patients, inpatients, consumers, users and residents. “And we are confident patient confidentiality has not been compromised.” Mr Trigg said business systems had been impacted and alternative arrangements were being implemented. “We remain confident wages and invoices will be paid as normal,” he said. Have you signed up to The Standard’s daily newsletter and breaking news emails? You can register below and make sure you are up to date with everything that’s happening in the south-west.

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