No ‘concrete evidence’ HSE cyberattack data posted online – Minister

Garda making ‘good progress’ in investigation, says Heather Humphreys

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys: ‘If you get any calls regarding your HSE records, please report that immediately to your local gardaí.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys: ‘If you get any calls regarding your HSE records, please report that immediately to your local gardaí.’ Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos Dublin

 

The Government does not have “any concrete evidence” that sensitive information obtained during the cyberattack on the health service has been posted online yet, as threatened, Minister for Justice and Employment Affairs Heather Humphreys has said.

The Garda were making “good progress” in the investigation into the criminals being the hack of the Health Service Executive (HSE) IT network, which has resulted in major disruption to hospitals and other healthcare services.

Speaking outside Government Buildings on Wednesday, Ms Humphreys said “we don’t have any concrete evidence that anything has been posted online”.

The cybercriminals had given the State a deadline of Monday to pay a €16.4 million ransom, or they claimed they would publish or sell the HSE data on the dark web. Officials still believe it is likely the data will be published or sold on, as no ransom was paid.

Despite no evidence patient data had yet been circulated online by cybercriminals, there were “a lot of scammers out there at the minute,” Ms Humphreys said.

It is believed fraudsters not connected to the cybercriminal group are attempting to take advantage of the confusion and fears surrounding the high profile ransomware hack.

“I know from the Department of Social Protection people are getting phone calls saying give us your PPS number. Do not give any numbers out to anybody, we don’t want to see people being defrauded,” Ms Humphreys said.

“If you get any calls regarding your HSE records, please report that immediately to your local gardaí,” the Minister said.

“The more information the gardaí have on this issue the better they will be able to deal with it, and find the criminals, because they’re making good progress,” she said.

Appeal to public

Ms Humphreys appealed to the public to follow new guidelines set out for the reopening of indoor dining in bars and restaurants this summer.

Under guidelines published by Fáilte Ireland, restaurants and pubs must close by 11:30pm, and limit bookings to 105 minutes if tables are less than two metres apart.

“The majority of people do adhere to the guidelines but where necessary gardaí do have the powers to enforce the regulations,” she said.

The new guidelines for indoor dining, which do not require customers to buy a €9 meal as before, would be reviewed as the Covid-19 vaccination programme continued to take effect, she said.

“It’s fair to say that we’re reviewing all of these rules in line with the rollout of the vaccine and the progress we’re making,” she said.

The Minister said the country was in a much “better position now” when it came to Covid-19. “The vaccine is being rolled out, and we are certainly on target to have 80 per of the population vaccinated by the end of June,” she said.

The Cabinet will meet on Friday to discuss a plan for the further easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

“Of course we’d all like things to be back to normal as quickly as possible and we all yearn for that, but we have to do it in a way that’s safe,” she said.

There would be no “cliff edge reduction” in pandemic income supports, such as the Pandemic Unemployment Payment (PUP), she said.

Ms Humphreys said she was expecting to bring forward a plan to Cabinet in June, which would set out the phased unwinding of the Covid-19 income support schemes.